Tuesday, May 10, 2016



Eye on border security: Panel address issues during congressional hearing
By David Rookhuyzen drookhuyzen@gvnews.com 4 hrs ago 0
David Rookhuyzen | Green Valley News


Art Del Cueto (right), president of the National Border Patrol Council Local 2544, speaks as part of a panel on a Congressional field hearing on border security Monday in Sahuarita with Douglas Mayor Danny Ortega (middle) and Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels.

Eye on border security
U.S. Rep. Martha McSally speaks with Nogales businessman Jaime Chamberlain (left) and Cochise County rancher Frank Krentz following a congressional hearing on border security held in Sahuarita on Monday.
The system is broken and no one knows quite how to fix it. But for now, the best solution is to get all possible ideas on the record.

That's the take-away Monday from a congressional field hearing on securing Arizona's southern border led by U.S. Rep. Martha McSally in Sahuarita. The three-hour hearing of the Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Safety, held in the town council chamber, consisted of one panel made up of law enforcement and elected officials and another of border residents and businesses.

Each panel member read a prepared statement and took questions from McSally and U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce of New Mexico, whose district borders Arizona. Both are Republicans.

McSally said she was holding the hearing because of a disconnect on the issues between policymakers and people who live along the border. All the testimony from Monday was now on the Congressional record for her colleagues to review when making decisions on border security.
"Our intent was to bring Washington to Southern Arizona and bring perspective," she said.

Some of the topics from Monday:

Secure the border

Art Del Cueto, president of National Border Patrol Council Local 2544, said the agency is down roughly 5,000 agents from where it should be for its mission. The last time the number of agents was increased significantly, many were taken off the border and farmed out to other agencies. Del Cueto said the Border Patrol should have a defense-in-depth strategy and not put all the resources on the border itself.
"We are essentially playing goal-line defense every day," he said.

Dan Bell, a rancher near Nogales, said that having access to stretches of the border was key to enforcement. A two-mile road was just put in on his ranch along the border, but that took 10 years to accomplish, he said. "Getting to the border is paramount if one is to protect it," Bell said.

Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels said the plan for border security needs to be redefined, taking what has worked from the past and retooling it for new challenges. He also was one of several who gave testimony that, in addition to any increase in Border Patrol agents, there needs to be an increase in prosecutions of illegal immigrants.

Frank Krentz, a Cochise County rancher whose father, Robert, was killed in 2010 by a suspected illegal immigrant, also said there needs to be judicial reform. He recounted stories of immigrants who know which court jurisdictions will treat them with more leniency if caught.

Commercial interests

A couple panel members wanted to make sure any increased border security would not hamper a bustling trade with Mexico.

Jaime Chamberlain, president of Nogales, Ariz.-based J-C Distributing Inc., said money should be put into improving the state's ports of entry to make them more effective and efficient. The recently upgraded Mariposa Port of Entry is understaffed, he said, keeping the local economy from booming.

Chamberlain also said securing the border and meeting commercial demands are not an either/or matter.
"Securing Danny Bell's ranch and Jaime Chamberlain's port of entry are equally important," he said.

Douglas Mayor Danny Ortega said 65 percent of his city's general fund comes from sales tax revenue, and 80 percent of sales come from those crossing the border to spend money in Arizona.
"We need to view the southern border as an asset and not a liability," he said.

Immigration reform

Though the hearing was focusing on border security, more than a few witnesses testified that security has to be coupled with an overhaul to the country's immigration system.

Ortega called for a streamlining of the process for Mexican citizens to obtain B1/B2 border crossing cards to cross into the U.S. to shop or visit.

Pastor Mark Adams with the bi-national ministry Frontera de Cristo, based in Douglas and Agua Prieta, Sonora, said 1990s immigration policies making it harder to cross between the two countries may have actually led to an increase in those entering the U.S. illegally. Those on the border have seen a shift between young men entering the country looking for work toward women and families doing so, he said.

Adams also called the tension between border security and immigration reform a "false" and "dangerous" dichotomy.

Nan Stockholm Walden, vice president and counsel for Farmers Investment Co., said border issues need a multi-layered approach and that the temporary worker system is broken. She advocated for ID cards with biometric markers and other means to allow those who want to work in the U.S. to do so.
"We are confusing Juan and Juanita, who just want to come here to work … with Juan the drug smuggler," she said.

Internal checkpoints

McSally asked each panel member about their thoughts on the use of internal Border Patrol checkpoints, such as the one on northbound Interstate 19 north of Tubac.

Del Cueto argued they serve a purpose and help deter illegal traffic. The Border Patrol knows that if someone manages to get through the border and then 10 miles into the U.S., the chances of catching them decreases.

"(The checkpoint agents) are not here to give anyone a hard time, they are here to do their job," he said.

Chamberlain called the checkpoints cumbersome, especially along a huge freight corridor such as I-19. He also said ruts are forming on the road where trucks are stopped and nearby property values are adversely affected. "I don't see the checkpoints being that effective," he said.

Stockholm Walden recommended roving checkpoints that shift time and place to better catch smugglers unawares.

Bell wasn't sold on the idea of checkpoints but didn't think it was a pressing issue.
"For now I think it's a necessity, but let's keep our focus on getting down to the border," he said.


Southern Arizonans call for secure border at Congressional field hearing
May 10, 2016 @ 3:15 pm

(AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)
PHOENIX — Southern Arizonans minced few words Monday as they called for a secure border during a Congressional field hearing held in the state.

"We have damage being done to our fences," Nogales rancher Dan Bell said. "Our watering facilities were damaged and drained. Our vehicles are stolen. Homes are broken into and valuables taken."

The hearing was hosted in Sahuarita by U.S. Rep. Martha McSally, who represents the state's 2nd Congressional District, after the House passed a bill that allows for a full threat assessment of the nation's southern border. H.R. 4482 will also study trade and immigration.

"Contrary to what we've been told, the border is not secure," she said. "And the consequences of this failure are felt by our residents every day. That's why southern Arizonans' perspectives are so important."

Most people at the hearing agreed with McSally.

"Violence against innocent citizens, public officials, law enforcement and rival drug, human-trafficking groups continues to escalate," Cochise County Sheriff Mark Daniels said.

However, some urged officials to remember that no matter what steps they may consider or take, they will affect those who call the area home.

"It's home to me, and it's home to millions of others," pastor Mark Adams said. "Too often, the border has been seen as a place to defend, as a place to be afraid of.

"As you all undertake the task of making laws, and trying to oversee the policies that make our border secure, I really want to encourage you to remember that the border is home."


Border Patrol checkpoints focus of congressional field hearing
Monday, May 9th 2016, 3:56 pm MST
Monday, May 9th 2016, 6:39 pm MST
By Bud Foster, Reporter


SAHUARITA, AZ (Tucson News Now) -
A field hearing on border security Monday, May 9, brought out many diverse opinions about how to secure the border without damaging commerce, but there seemed to be general consensus that the border checkpoints hurt more than they help.

The congressional hearing in Sahuarita was chaired by District 2 Congresswoman Martha McSally, who is chairwoman of the Maritime Security Subcommittee.

A diverse group of politicians and regular citizens testified that the checkpoints, which are located 22 miles from the border, act as an impediment to commercial trade and do little to enhance security.

"Used to be that I had to advertise for 45 days to make sure no American can do this job," says Nan Stockholm-Walden, Vice President of Farmers Investment Council. "Now it's 75 days."

Many times those crops, like grapes or strawberries, will perish in the field before they can be harvested.
"A lot of policies in Washington don't work so well in the real world," said Stockholm-Walden.

McSally says she has "heard all this before" but wants to make it part of the Congressional record in hopes of adding to information, which may change policy.

She wants her Washington colleagues to hear how people who live in southern Arizona have concerns about deploying agents 22 miles in, rather that at the border.
"The business community is concerned it's impacting their business, their flow of traffic and attracting new business to our community," she said.

McSally also argues the smugglers go around the checkpoints leaving nearby neighborhoods vulnerable.
"It's a public threat to them," she said.

It is the Border Patrol's policy of "defense in depth" that allows time to make stops and arrests when someone, including drug smugglers, make it across the border.

In an effort to avoid the fixed, permanent checkpoints, the criminals just go around them and rejoin their route on the other side.

Some say it's time for a new policy that stations border agents along the border to enhance the fence, which runs for more than 600 miles. But at the same time, massing the border agents in the ports of entry along the border will only slow down commerce, which is nearly $2 billion in Douglas, AZ alone.

Others call for a renewed effort for immigration reform.

"We've had 20 years of border walls, more agents, more helicopters, more roads and none of that has solved the problem," said Dan Mills, of the Sierra Club. "We need to start looking at the root causes."
He says the policy needs to change to encourage people "to come through the front door rather than sneaking in the back door."

Arizona and much of the nation relies on a quick delivery of goods, services and produce. Anything that delays that costs money.

The testimony from Monday's hearing will be part of the Congressional record.


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