EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – A New Mexico Democrat and an Arizona Republican are spearheading a congressional caucus to deal with issues unique to the Southwestern United States.

The issues the new Bipartisan Southwest Caucus will address include immigration and border security, economic development and trade, and conservation of public lands.

“From severe drought to strengthening infrastructure and trade, the issues that (U.S. Rep.) Gabe Vasquez and I face in our respective communities do not abide by party or state lines,” said U.S. Rep. Juan Ciscomani, R-Arizona. “When we work together, we strengthen our districts, our states, and our region.”

Vasquez, a Democrat who represents Southern New Mexico, echoed those feelings.

“Our districts face many similar challenges and opportunities. Congress is at its best when we can find meaningful ways to work together,” Vasquez said in a news conference on Facebook Live. “By leading this caucus jointly, we will be able to bring together our colleagues and other Southwest lawmakers to advocate for our districts and beautiful Southwest communities.”

The two lawmakers have teamed up in the past to support bills of mutual interest such as the Joint Task Force to Combat Opioid Trafficking Act, the Farm Workforce Support Act, and the World and Livestock Fairness Act.

Their respective districts border Mexico and include large Hispanic constituencies. Both lawmakers are native Spanish speakers who come from Mexican immigrant families and have led business associations. Both said that knowledge will help them lead discussions in Congress dealing with controversial topics such as immigration.

“I am an immigrant myself. I went through the process. I understand how it’s slow, bureaucratic and expensive. It took my family over a decade to get sworn in as citizens. I am very interested and improving the legal path to be here and that it reflects the needs of the workforce,” Ciscomani said. “At the same time, we have to prioritize the security on our border.”

Ciscomani advocates combatting the opioid drugs epidemic that claims more than 100,000 American lives every year and keeping track of “who the bad actors” are, including the Mexican drug cartels.

Vasquez, born in the U.S. and raised on both sides of the border, said Republicans and Democrats have found common ground in the past on key immigration and security issues.

“We have to make sure our ports of entry have the technology that they need to be able to scan properly all of the goods and also the illegal, illicit things that are coming across,” Vasquez said. “That’s a common area we would like to work on right away.”

The New Mexico congressman said he hopes the work of the caucus will “take some of the contempt out of the discussions” of recent months, which include immigration.