During a virtual candidate forum on Zoom, Kirsten Engel criticized the “media and Republicans” for voicing concerns about the ongoing border crisis, saying they need to “spend some time in our border communities.”
“The media and Republicans primarily have done really a grave disservice to our border communities and to migrants that are seeking safety in our country by depicting our border as a place of crisis and rampant crime,” Engel said. “So all you need to do is spend some time in our border communities to see how much back and forth there is. Families going back and forth on both sides to shop, to see relatives, to visit the dentist.”
In another clip from the candidate forum, which was hosted by the Cochise County Democrats, Engel warned her fellow Democrats about not falling “into these traps that the Republicans are trying to get us to fall into in which they are painting the border, as I said, as this out-of-control place with, you know, criminals swarming into our country.”
Engel acknowledged during the candidate forum that Arizona has “issues of drug smuggling,” cartels and human smuggling, but said she believed that “walls do not help” with these issues.
“Walls are not making us any safer. They just break down trust between us and the very Mexican authorities we need to work with on our security issues,” Engel said. “The wall has been devastating to the environment. Building the wall has devastated habitats. It has blocked wildlife migration patterns and it’s accentuated flooding in the entire region.”
Engel expanded on her comments during the candidate forum in a statement to Fox News, saying, “Immigration isn’t a new problem for Arizona” and “Washington has failed us for far too long and Southern Arizona communities have paid the price.”
“Arizona shouldn’t have to bear the burden of our broken immigration system. We need to secure the border and stop the movement of drugs and guns across our border,” Engel continued. “We can do that by investing in technology and modernizing security measures at our ports of entry, not building walls. And it is far past time for Congress to enact comprehensive immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship and protection for DREAMers.”
Engel, who formerly served in Arizona’s state House of Representatives and Senate, announced in March that she was running for Congress in Arizona’s 2nd Congressional District, a week after Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick said she wasn’t running for reelection. According to the Federal Election Commission website, Engel’s campaign has raised more than $500,000 over the last six months.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee tweeted earlier this year that Arizona’s 2nd District is “in play” and said it is one of the “competitive districts across the country” they will keep an eye on in order to protect their “Democratic House Majority.”
Despite Engel’s comments on Sunday, multiple Democrats have voiced frustrations with the Biden administration regarding the ongoing border crisis, including Pete Saenz, the mayor of Laredo, Texas.
“We need to truly secure the border,” Saenz told the Washington Free Beacon in an interview last month. “It was working under Trump, call it whatever you want to call it, but it was working.”
“The border’s not secure and hasn’t been for a while,” he said. “We can’t continue this way, and I really haven’t seen any measures yet from Washington to remedy this.”