Over the weekend, Kane County, Utah Sheriff Tracy Glover and Utah County Sheriff Mike Smith grabbed lunch at a local pizza spot in Cochise County during their trip to Sierra Vista, a small city known for its panoramic views, in the Southeastern corner of Arizona, roughly 15 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border.

Their uniforms prompted a local to ask them what they were doing in the high desert area.

“Are you here to fix the problem?” Glover recalled the Arizonan saying, evoking the weight of the migrant crisis.

The two sheriffs traveled with Rep. Celeste Maloy, R-Utah, over the weekend to witness Arizona’s struggles at the border firsthand.

This marks Maloy’s second trip to the southern edge of the U.S. In January, the Utah representative trekked to the border town of Eagle Pass, Texas, with about 60 other Republican U.S. House members. At the time, she stressed the severity of the crisis and the need for security measures, saying, “It’s worse now than it’s been in past years and past decades. Everybody we talked to said that.”

Maloy, who represents Utah’s 2nd District, said Arizona and Texas have a “slightly different take” on the same issue before stressing, “Everyone is tired.”

So far in fiscal year 2024, more than 1.15 million migrants have been encountered by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. In 2023, this number got close to 2.5 million, and in 2022, it was more than 2.37 million. Politicians across the U.S. are focused on this issue, bumping it up to one of the leading concerns for voters.

But the border states are getting crushed, as they grapple with the surge in crossings while juggling a lack of resources without the helping hand of the federal government. The problems of the Grand Canyon and Lone Star States aren’t identical, either.

Texas attracts “a lot of asylum seekers,” Maloy said. But that isn’t the case in Arizona. “They have drug runners (and) ... smugglers,” she said, adding that migrants often move back and forth between the U.S. and Mexico.

Arizona has only six ports of entry while Texas has 31, which includes land and water. Through his visit, Glover said he learned cartels typically process asylum seekers to areas with a higher chance of being processed. But “potentially more hardened criminals” are instructed to journey through remote parts, like the Tucson area, an hour or so away from Sierra Vista.

In Cochise County, the border wall, erected during the Trump administration, is approximately 83.5 miles long and has many gaps filled in by state-funded fencing and vehicle barriers.

Maloy said walking by this wall, she could see areas where the infrastructural deterrent ends, allowing migrants to walk into the U.S.

“What I saw there was local law enforcement doing a really great job of trying to hold on to whatever order they can at the border without much support from the federal government,” she said. “I never saw a single Border Patrol agent all day while we were there.”

The local sheriff told Maloy and other visiting officials not to expect an agent either, as they passed by an empty border patrol station, with trucks parked outside it. Glover noted local authorities said border patrol agents are simply “bogged down with processing,” which is why “you don’t find them patrolling.”

Maloy and Glover mentioned seeing an observation point on Mexican land, near where the border wall ends. This houses a spotter, who tracks patrolling activity. The high point, nestled in the mountainous landscape, was maybe 100 to 200 hundred yards away from the U.S. border, Glover estimated.

Glover said they “didn’t see any caravans of illegal immigrants” entering the U.S. during their visit. Officials said it wasn’t uncommon to encounter such sights, even when visitors, such as Glover and Maloy are pacing close to the wall.

But the day of their visit was cold and snowy, which slowed down migrant activity, the Kane county sheriff said.

Glover recalled asking Cochise County authorities about violent encounters, and learned migrants avoid bumping into locals “because they don’t want to draw attention to themselves.” When they do cross paths with someone hiking, backpacking or mountain biking through these scenic mountains, they often get “food or water ... and then move on.”

Arizona authorities said they enter a lot of high-speed car chases where the drivers are American citizens, recruited through social media by the cartels as transportation for migrants, said Glover. “Locals are definitely concerned,” he said. They are advised to be vigilant since migrants try to quickly move through border counties into other parts of the country.

The Republican-controlled Arizona legislature approved a bill that would allow local law enforcement to arrest non-U.S. citizens entering unlawfully, making it a misdemeanor or a low-level felony, The Associated Press reported. But earlier in March, Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs vetoed this effort, citing it as a burden for law enforcement and the state’s judicial system.

In the coming months, Arizona residents might decide on a ballot measure, requiring municipalities and counties to use welfare funding for a federal employment verification database, which would determine whether employees are in the U.S. legally.

Glover said he appreciated Maloy for getting her shoes dirty and being unafraid to “ask tough questions and listen to tough answers.” The congresswoman heard from local and state operators about the dire need for congressional and executive action.

The House passed H.R. 2 — containing border-related measures like restricting asylum claims and constructing the rest of the border wall — but it has yet to be taken up by the Democrat-controlled Senate, despite a strong push from the Republican Conference.

But last week, when the House passed the remaining six of 12 spending bills, Maloy said the legislation included funding for the Department of Homeland Security for developing border security technology.

Maloy said she was sympathetic toward state-level authorities, who are forced to develop surveillance and communication technologies on their own dime, all “because they care about their communities and they’re not willing to sit back and watch them fall apart.” But, she added, the federal government should take responsibility.