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Thursday, September 12, 2013

Does Anyone Care What Border Sheriffs Think?

by USA Today: It's monsoon season in southern Arizona, so Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels has to drive slowly along the hilly, rocky, muddy terrain that covers the 83-mile border his county shares with Mexico.

He scans the horizon to see whether any immigrants or drug smugglers are approaching the 4-foot-high border fence. Glancing at the lights of a city in Mexico, he turns and asks, "Seen any Border Patrol agents?"

Dannels' complaints about the lack of Border Patrol agents along the border suggests he supports a Senate plan to flood the Southwest border with 20,000 new agents -- but he doesn't. He doesn't think border security proposals in the House of Representatives will do much, either.

"The people in my county are very frustrated," Dannels says, looking at the lush green of a valley that will soon shrivel to brown in the desert sun. "They feel border security hasn't been taken seriously." . . .

But of the 17 sheriffs interviewed by USA TODAY, whose jurisdictions cover most of the U.S.-Mexico border, only one said they felt all those new agents were needed. The rest said they feel Border Patrol simply needs a new strategy and new technology.

"They're tripping over themselves now," Hudspeth County, Texas, Sheriff Arvin West said of the current 18,500 Border Patrol agents working the Southwest border.

The problem, West says, is that Border Patrol agents are no longer on the border, but working many miles inland. West has spent 30 years in the western Texas county where most of the border fence consists of posts strung with a few strands of barbed wire. It's dangerous work to patrol the wild, rugged terrain in the middle of the night.

He, like all other sheriffs interviewed, respect the Border Patrol agents who risk their lives to keep the border safe and secure.

"But put them on the damned border," he said. "In some places here, they are 60, 70 miles away. It's going to take some (courage) to go down there. When you first get down there ... you're going to (tick) the drug dealers off. But once they understand that you held the line, they're going to look for weaker spots further down the line." . . .   [Read More of this long but very comprehensive article]

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