/ Modified dec 18, 2019 3:40 p.m.

Border wait times, Rep. Raúl Grijalva, OSIRIS-REx milestone

Plus, our journalists roundtable takes a deep dive into recent headlines impacting Arizona.

Increased security measures at some of Arizona’s ports of entry have led to extended wait times, according to Customs and Border Protection. This week, Guadalupe Ramirez, the agency’s director of field operations in Arizona, discussed the changes with Lorraine Rivera.

Ramirez said that large numbers of migrants seeking asylum have started rushing the ports. When they are on U.S. soil, CBP is legally obligated to process them first, in turn pushing other asylum seekers to the back of the line.

"There's a danger in that both for them and our officers, as well as the traveling public," Ramirez said.

The influx of individuals running through the passenger lanes has disrupted operations, Ramirez said, adding the agency has had to put security measures in place like restricting the number of lanes to narrow their entry.

“Our primary mission of facilitating travel and trade is still our top priority,” Ramirez said. “However, when you have these instances happen, you have to realign your resources. You wind up reducing staff in other processes.”

The same day U.S. House Democrats introduced articles of impeachment against President Trump, they also paved the way for him to make good on his promise to replace NAFTA. Prior to those announcements, both issues came up when U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva sat down with Christopher Conover at Arizona Public Media in late November.

The congressman from Tucson said then that he believed the Democratic majority in the U.S. House would eventually vote to impeach the president. He disputed criticism from Republicans that Democrats had sidelined other issues in favor of the proceedings.

“We have sent 300 pieces of legislation to the Senate,” Grijalva said. “Those are all there. And for the president or any of the Republicans to say we are not doing anything. The abyss is the Senate.”

More than a year after North American leaders agreed on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement to replace NAFTA, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced a deal with the White House on a revised version of the trade pact. Conover asked Grijalva if delays in ratifying the USMCA have hurt workers in Arizona.

“Quite frankly, it would be good to get it at the beginning of the next session — see what we have in front of us,” Grijalva said. “I think that this fixation of this administration on tariffs and other means to try and control not only what’s imported and exported, but also as part of foreign policy when it comes to Mexico ... those issues I think have also complicated the situation.”

Arizona 360 took a deep dive into some of the headlines that shaped the past few months with a journalists roundtable that included Green Valley News/Sahuarita Sun editor Dan Shearer and Tucson Local Media executive editor Jim Nintzel. The panel also looked ahead to Arizona’s next legislative session and changes in Southern Arizona’s political landscape.

The OSIRIS-REx mission to collect a sample from an asteroid reached a milestone this week when scientists revealed the exact location of where they will take a sample from the asteroid Bennu. Arizona 360 learned more about the process researchers undertook to survey Bennu’s surface and select a site.

This story was produced by AZPM special projects producer Tom Kleespie.

Arizona 360
Arizona 360 airs Fridays at 8:30 p.m. on PBS 6 and Saturdays at 8 p.m. on PBS 6 PLUS. See more from Arizona 360.
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