On Friday, August 12, New Mexico governor Bill Richardson declared a state of emergency in four counties. The following Monday, Arizona governor Janet Napolitano did the same. And the federal government is less than pleased.
In New Mexico, Gov. Richardson cited “violence directed at law enforcement, damage to property and livestock, increased evidence of drug smuggling, and an increase in the number of undocumented immigrants” as the reason for the state of emergency in Doña Ana, Luna, Grant, and Hidalgo counties.
“I’m taking these serious steps because of the urgency of the situation and, unfortunately, because of the total inaction and lack of resources from the federal government and Congress,” he said. “We will continue to work with the federal government in an attempt to get their assistance, but something had to be done immediately. I want the people of Doña Ana, Luna, Hidalgo, and Grant counties to know my administration is doing everything it can to protect them.”
In Arizona, “The federal government has failed to secure our border, and the health and safety of all Arizonans is threatened daily by violent gangs, coyotes and other dangerous criminals,” said Governor Napolitano. “These funds provide our law enforcement community with another valuable tool to fight crime related to illegal immigration.” The state of emergency covers Cochise, Pima, Santa Cruz and Yuma counties.
Both governors charge that the Department of Homeland Security is not doing enough to stem the tide of illegal immigration and crimes committed by illegal immigrants and coyotes as they make the border crossings.
Rejecting such criticism, a spokesman for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security, said the problems Richardson and Napolitano complained about were the result of successful efforts to enforce border laws elsewhere.
Moreover, the official said, trouble in those relatively sparsely populated areas had been anticipated and additional resources had been dispatched to deal with them.
An enforcement drive in the Tucson sector of Arizona has forced illegal immigrants to use border crossing points in the counties that Napolitano had declared disaster areas, Customs and Border Protection spokesman Mario Villarreal said. “In anticipation of this, we had already permanently assigned an increase in staffing to those sectors.”
CBP plans to boost staff by 20 percent along the Arizona border this year and has doubled the number of patrol aircraft there, Villarreal said, and the El Paso sector, which covers all of New Mexico and part of Texas, will get an additional 300 agents. — Baltimore Sun
The actions by the two state governors frees up emergency funding which will be used to step up law enforcement efforts in the affected counties.
DHS obviously should have seen this coming, and is wasting money by only dealing with single spots and not the entire border.
The danger, global scope, and limited resources for dealing with terrorism require a systems-based approach to the issue. Unless all aspects of the program are coordinated and deal with simultaneously, dealing with part of it will cause a “bulge” elsewhere. Conversely, a coordinated effort can reduce overall costs and redundancy, because of synergies between the component programs. — David Stephenson
Stephenson goes on to point out that DHS didn’t warn state and local officials of the enforcement efforts or that they might see increased activity in other areas.
For all the good it’s done, the current approach to border security is like trying to plug up a dam with a finger. A completely new approach is required.
I know several of you live in Arizona and New Mexico, either in or near the affected areas. What do you think needs to be done?