Gowan, Other Officials Come To Washington To Plead For Border Action

Arizona state Sen. David Gowan, R-Sierra Vista, said that in 30 years of living near the border, he has not seen immigration as bad as he says it is today. Gowan was in Washington to meet with federal lawmakers on the issue. (Photo by Adrienne Washington/Cronkite News)

By Adrienne Washington

WASHINGTON – In all the time he’s lived near the border, Arizona Sen. David Gowan, R-Sierra Vista, said he has never seen an immigration crisis as bad as the one he’s seeing now.

“It’s the highest incursion we’ve had since I’ve lived down there,” said Gowan, who has lived in Cochise County for 30 years.

That was the message that Gowan and a handful of local officials and activists from across the country hoped to deliver to members of Congress while in Washington this week. As Terrell County, Texas, Sheriff Thad Cleveland said, it’s not just a problem for border states.

“In Terrell County, we don’t have a crime problem. We’ve got a national security problem,” Cleveland said at the Wednesday event organized by the Federation for American Immigration Reform.

The event comes at a time when migrant encounters at the southern border have reached historic highs. Customs and Border Protection said that a record 2.47 million migrants were encountered at the southern border in fiscal 2023, which ended in September. Data from October is not yet available from CBP.

RELATED STORY: 2.47 million migrant encounters at southern border in fiscal 2023 sets record 

The data also showed that the Tucson sector, which encompasses most of the state’s border with Mexico, saw the highest number of encounters of any CBP sector for the last three months of the fiscal year.

A total of 373,625 migrants were encountered in the Tucson sector for all of fiscal 2023, the third-highest sector for the whole year. The Yuma sector, which covers the rest of Arizona’s border with Mexico, recorded a total of 174,201 encounters for the year, according to CBP.

Gowan said he and the others came to Washington to share the reality of the southern border with members of Congress.

“The interior states, we need to get to those congressmen, tell them what’s happening down there, what’s happening with the people on the ground, how we need aid to our police forces. You know, certainly our sheriff offices,” Gowan said.

Gowan said in an interview after the conference that he is not against immigration, but he wants to ensure those who enter the country do so legally and are carefully vetted.

“I believe in legal immigration. So we have ports of entry and that’s where the legal immigration process should start,” he said. “Not just crossing the border and breaking the laws already, but that’s … at a lower level than what the cartels are doing.”

In addition to citing the surging numbers of migrants, Gowan and others at the event repeated stories of drug and human trafficking they said are coming across the border.

“The drugs and the smuggling that they’re bringing across is the highest we’ve ever seen. And 50% of the fentanyl comes across our border right there, that’s bad for us. That’s bad for our nation,” he said. “So at least some of them (migrants), a lot of them are up here and they’re, they’re criminals themselves. That’s what we’re seeing.”

But an attorney for the Southern Border Communities Coalition called that sort of rhetoric typical of the type of “dehumanizing language” used to “demonize” migrants.

(Video by Alexandria Cullen/Cronkite News)

“I think that there is a human right to migration, there is a human right to be treated with respect … regardless of what the numbers of migration are in any given day,” said Ricky Garza, the attorney.

Garza said migration “would run a lot smoother” if asylum seekers were able to “go to the ports of entry and actually make a claim as they’re obligated to do under international law.”

“But instead we’ve seen all these artificial roadblocks and limits being thrown up and it can only be this many number of people a day (entering the U.S.) and – that really has no basis in international law,” he said.

They did not offer specific solutions to what they called the immigration crisis, but most of the speakers at Wednesday’s event blamed the Biden administration. Cleveland said it’s not the fault of one administration or another, but that something that needs to be figured out to address the national issue.

“This is a solvable problem,” said Cleveland, who spent 25 years working for Border Patrol. “It doesn’t matter if you’re Democrat or Republican, we need to fix this.”

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Cronkite News is the news division of Arizona PBS. The daily news products are produced by the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.


  1. No one wants to fix it because it’s being done on purpose. Too many powerful people are making millions from the drug trade and the buying & selling of humans, not to mention the pedophiles are happy with their 85.000 missing children. Cartel Katie and China Joe are the main sock puppets perpetrating the crisis in Arizona.

  2. The leftists, cartels, foreign adversaries/ terrorists, and freeloaders cheer Garza’s delivery of the globalist script- each for their own agenda’s sake.

  3. Garza the atty represents the attitudes of globalization- including open borders and the deconstruction of our national sovereignty. Garza wants Arizonans and the rest of America to allow migration without any regard for laws created to ensure national security. This is an idiotic position. People who support this position are more likely to vote while not being informed with facts. Truly the left has no interest in sincerely vetting (checking for authenticity of identity, criminal background check, health status-risk of carrying infectious diseases & viruses long ago eradicated from America and their ability to sustain self determination)these many millions. Asylum was never meant to be a catch all category, but the uniformed accept whatever they are told. Asylum is actually meant for emergency situations set by established lawful criteria. Of the many millions flooding through the porous south and northern American borders less than 2% meet that lawful criteria. Garza represents the haters of American sovereignty. The rest of us using common sense know the difference between people coming from more than 140 countries who either respect America’s laws or are answering a Biden call by the left to be useful political pawns. These pawns are promised a completely free financial ride by the leftists and sanctuary cities. And America pays the price! We get an absence of national security, increased taxes to pay for the free rides, rising crime rates, increased drug and human smuggling, and a decline in civil society. While America experiences Biden policies have no doubt the cartels and multinational organizations with ties to terrorism are paying close attention to a weak America.

  4. Mayorkas says there is no crisis at the Border. Nice try but this Administration won’t do anything to help the situation…and neither will the newly elected d_p s__t Mayor in Tucson!

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