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What I Heard On My Latest Trip


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March 5, 2005

What I Heard On My Latest Trip To The Border

By Jon Kyl

It's a rare conversation in Arizona politics that goes on long without the subject turning to immigration in general and the problems at the border specifically.

Late last month I spent some time in and around Nogales, meeting with various public officials and constituents. Much of what I heard was familiar, as we in Arizona continue to struggle to get the federal government to live up to its obligation to confront what is undeniably a federal issue. But I also heard stories of new developments, both positive and negative.

Michael Nicely, the Border Patrol chief of the Tucson Sector, told me the biggest recent change he's seen has been in the nature of activity at the border. Crossings by armed thugs and violent encounters have risen dramatically: since October of 2004, Border Patrol agents have experienced 96 assaults, compared to 56 for the same period last year. Most involved "rocking"; the bombarding of patrol vehicles with stones, but there have also been 16 vehicular assaults and 10 shootings. The guess is the violence is associated with increased drug smuggling.

On the plus side, Chief Nicely told me, control of the border is steadily improving in many ways, particularly around Nogales itself. Since October 2004, he said, the Border Patrol has apprehended more than 150,000 illegal aliens, as well as 20 tons of marijuana and 471 pounds of cocaine in the Tucson sector alone. But he said his agents need more resources - infrastructure, technology, personnel - faster to do their jobs, as traffic in people and drugs moves out to more remote areas.

Ranchers I spoke with brought photographs of the enormous amount of trash left by illegal border crossers, and of the trails and cut fences on their property. The environmental impact on fragile ecosystems and endangered species is devastating. (By contrast, the Border Patrol goes to such lengths to protect the environment that their horses are given special feed containing only indigenous seeds, to make sure only native plants will germinate from the horse waste.)

Not surprisingly, the ranchers and other constituents commended the Border Patrol agents for their professionalism and hard work. But they also stressed the need for more manpower, as I have in turn repeatedly emphasized to President Bush and in legislation to add thousands of additional agents, along with equipment and infrastructure. I've also invited my Senate colleagues - most from states that don't see the border as "their" problem - as well as other federal agency officials to come see the situation firsthand.

The sheer volume of cross-border traffic in Nogales is overwhelming; James Tong, the Port of Entry director, told me that last year his staff processed 4 million vehicles, 10 million passengers, 5.5 million pedestrians and 245,000 commercial trucks. The vast majority are, of course, perfectly legitimate, and Customs and Border Protection and the Greater Nogales and Santa Cruz Port Authority are developing a Free and Secure Trade (FAST) dedicated lane to expedite commercial traffic through the Mariposa Port. I have asked the State Department to help advance this process. But we must not sacrifice security for speed: in between all those lettuce trucks and day-shoppers, Customs agents also found more than 16 tons of marijuana, two tons of cocaine, and 123 pounds of methamphetamines.

Even more important, of course, is the need to secure the border against terrorists, whom recent news reports suggest are increasingly likely to attempt to infiltrate the United States from Mexico. The day that Michael Chertoff was confirmed as the new Secretary of Homeland Security, I met with him to discuss the Arizona border. He assured me that it is a top priority and accepted my invitation to visit soon. Illegal immigration is bad enough, but it would be a tragedy if it took a terrorist attack to finally convince Washington to do what's necessary to bring the border under control.

Senator Kyl sits on the Senate's Finance and Judiciary committees


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It's getting rediculous with all the illegal immigrants coming over.

Yet, we're supposed to let them have a driver's liscence, give them all kinds of government assistance such as health care. :angry:

Don't know if there illegal or not, but I'm sure you've experienced this: You go into a restaurant and you try to order something, and the person can't speak any English what so ever.

This happened to me at the Sbarro' s in Eastdale Mall. Ipointed that I wanted a piece of sausage and he pinted at the Pepperoni talking in Spanish. So just to get away, I took what he pointed at :rolleyes:

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