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The one senator involved in writing the bill who hasn’t visited the border is Sen. Robert Menendez, New Jersey Democrat.

Some senators seemed fine with having missed out on taking a look.

“I haven’t, and I don’t especially want to go,” said Sen. Tim Johnson, a South Dakota Democrat who will retire next year at the end of his third term in the chamber.

Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, Maryland Democrat, was more creative in answering the question. Citing her experience on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and her support of strong borders, Ms. Milkulsi said she has been there “by proxy.”

A number of lawmakers, meanwhile, said that they have been to the U.S.-Canada border, which they said also poses security threats and deserves attention.

Sen. Carl Levin, Michigan Democrat, pointed to a 2010 report from the Government Accountability Office that said “the terrorist threat on the northern border is higher, given the large expanse of area with limited law enforcement coverage.”

Other visits

Several lawmakers made the trip before they were elected to Congress.

Sen. Bob Corker, Tennessee Republican, said he traveled there during the 2006 election campaign. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, New Hampshire Republican, said she traveled to the southern border during her 2010 Senate race.

Sen. Joe Manchin III, West Virginia Democrat, visited the border as governor to see his state’s National Guard troops whom President George W. Bush had deployed to help assist the Border Patrol in building fencing and other infrastructure.

Others had been to the area, but not for border security reasons.

Sen. Sherrod Brown, Ohio Democrat, traveled to Texas in the 1990s as a member of the House to show his opposition to “fast track” authority for trade agreements. Sen. Bernard Sanders’ office said the Vermont independent traveled to “Juarez to visit maquiladora factories, but not specifically to look at border security.”

Tom Howell Jr. and David Sherfinski contributed to this report.