Note: Op-ed: Mr. Shannon is correct in his comments.
The SCSO seldom seems to apprehend anyone. Especially in the western
edges of the county. Location of many crimes, many bullets flying.
The I-19 checkpoint doesn't bother anyone that we are aware of,
including family, friends and many of our winter visitor friends from
Folks have been asking that BP and law enforcement do better job on
the ones trying to circle the checkpoint.
Might also want to take note of the cast of characters in this one
Congressmen turn to locals to flesh out reality of border
Seated at the dais during Friday's border hearing are, from left:
Nogales Mayor Arturo Garino, Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.), Rep. Raul
Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) and Rep. Silvestre
Posted: Friday, February 10, 2012 7:16 pm | Updated: 8:38 pm, Fri Feb
By Jonathan Clark
Nogales International |
Local officials and community leaders told a U.S. congressional
delegation on Friday that Nogales and Santa Cruz County are safe
despite their proximity to the border, that problems at the ports of
entry are negatively impacting crucial cross-border trade with
Mexico, and that the Border Patrol's checkpoint on Interstate 19 is
discouraging tourism to the area.
The testimony from Sheriff Antonio Estrada, customs broker Terry
Shannon Jr. and Tubac-based businessman Gary Brasher came during an
ad hoc field hearing on border issues at Nogales City Hall. The
visiting delegation was led by Rep. Raul Grijalva of Arizona, who
brought fellow Democratic Reps. Luis Gutierrez (Ill.), Mike Honda
(Calif.) and Silvestre Reyes (Texas) to town for a closer look – and
more comprehensive understanding – of border issues.
"We understand enforcement. We are not begrudging or taking away from
that effort," Grijalva said at the start of the meeting. "But we also
feel that you need a complete picture of what the border is and what
the border needs."
Shannon told the panel that cross-border trade with Mexico, an
activity that generates an annual $22 billion, needs more efficient
ports of entry.
"The problem is that economic vitality is being jeopardized across
the southern border due to insufficient staffing and outdated ports
of entry," he said. "It's not uncommon to take two hours to cross the
border coming north, and another 45 minutes going south. And this can
double and triple at different times of the year."
Estrada also recognized the importance of legal cross-border
movement, and noted that even without a natural barrier between the
county and Sonora like a river or a vast expanse of desert, the area
is well protected from a spillover of violence.
"Regardless of the rhetoric that we hear, it is not raining bullets
here in Nogales and Santa Cruz County," the sheriff said.
When it comes to security, Brasher said, his organization Coalition
for a Safe and Secure Border is "extraordinarily supportive" of the
Border Patrol's efforts. "However, I can also say that the operation
of the checkpoint on Interstate 19 just north of the village of Tubac
has also had a significant negative impact on our local economy," he
While locals are accustomed to passing through the checkpoint, it's a
different story for visitors, Brasher said. "Even people who
haven't done anything wrong, they just get a little nervous having to
go through that," he said. Brasher added that his group is in favor
of mobile, temporary checkpoints along all area roadways leading
north from the border.
The comments from Shannon, Estrada and Brasher, as well as testimony
provided at the hearing by Pima County Medical Examiner Gregory Hess
and Daniel Rodriguez of the Arizona DREAM Coalition, will be entered
into the congressional record.
Grijalva said the information will be useful to the delegation "as we
go back and advocate with our colleagues about the reality of the
See Tuesday's Nogales International for a full report