U.S. Rep. Martha McSally

Rep. Martha McSally’s apparent decision opens up the race for the U.S. House in Arizona’s 2nd Congressional District.

Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Star 2017

U.S. Rep. Martha McSally played it cool as she addressed the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce on Thursday.

“Things are a bit boring in D.C. these days,” the two-term Republican teased as she addressed a friendly lunch crowd at the Hacienda Del Sol Guest Ranch Resort. More than 100 business and community leaders attended the luncheon.

She used her time to give her thoughts about such topics as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program, the Douglas Port of Entry and some subtle nuances of a new border wall.

Here are some hightlights:

Douglas Port of Entry

McSally earlier thanked the chamber for its advocacy in Douglas, saying a large expansion of the port of entry is now on Congress’ radar.

“It is old, it is inadequate and it is impacting cross-border commerce,” McSally said.

It isn’t, she argued, just a local issue. She said the port is vital to expanding commerce with Mexico, the state’s largest trading partner.

“The Douglas Port of Entry is not for Douglas. It is not just for Southern Arizona. It is for the state and for the country,” McSally said.

With long waits at the crossing, some Mexicans opt to put off shopping in the United States, hurting local businesses, she said.

An update to the 85-year-old port is now part of a national five-year infrastructure plan, but McSally vowed to “go to the mat” to secure funding for the port and several other Southern Arizona infrastructure projects.

DACA

In response to the chamber’s question on DACA, McSally said a long-term solution on how to handle students in the program is needed.

She disagreed with then-President Obama when he implemented the program and sidestepped questions about what Congress might have to do if President Trump acts to cancel or alter the program, which allows young illegal immigrants who were brought to the country when they were children to avoid deportation for two years.

McSally said the students who are part of the DACA program have done their part, registering with the federal government, going through background checks, going to school and getting jobs after graduation.

“It is my view that we need to solve this thing legislatively. You can’t just have Congress complain that the administration shouldn’t have done that. Well, if you think it is Congress’ job, then just do your job,” she said.

New border wall

Hinting she was heading into dangerous territory, McSally said she wanted to briefly discuss funding for new sections of the border wall sought by Trump.

Recently-installed sections of the border wall in Arizona, she said, have nothing to do with President Trump. Instead it was the Obama administration that approved and paid for those barriers.

In the next budget, she said, there are proposals for new sections — but they add up to less than 100 miles of new fencing along the border from California to Texas.

She said the proposals are relatively common sense and are designed to stop smugglers along specific routes.

Joe Ferguson at jferguson@tucson.com or 573-4197. On Twitter: @JoeFerguson

Reporter

Reporter with the Arizona Daily Star. I cover politics as well as the city of Tucson and other municipalities in Southern Arizona.