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Congressman Barber: "People I represent need to be safe, on their land"

Congressman Barber: "People I represent need to be safe, on their land"

CREATED Feb 23, 2013

Reporter: Guy Atchley
Web Producer: Ina Ronquillo, Rikki Mitchell

DOUGLAS, Ariz. (KGUN9-TV) - "People I represent need to be safe, on their land," said Congressman Ron Barber. "Particularly the ranchers east of Douglas,all the way to New Mexico, really don't feel that they're getting enough attention in terms of protection."

But Ron Barber believes that's about to change.

He says Homeland Security must begin spending its resources where most of the problems are.

"We represent 13 percent of the border to Mexico," he says. "But 38 percent of the drug seizures, 37 percent of the apprehensions."

The Congressman also says we can't blame Mexico for the magnet of U.S. employment.

"We need to crack down even more than we have on employers who are hiring illegally," he says. "We have to make sure employers know that there's a severe penalty for breaking law, by hiring illegally."

As for the estimated 11 million people already living in the U.S. illegally, Barber wants what he calls "a pathway to legal status," and it won't be easy.

"They need first to become permanent residents," he says. "They need to get a Green card, begin to settle in and become everything that they want to be in this country. And then as time passes they can apply for citizenship."

This story is part of a KGUN9 On Your Side special called Arizona Border: On The Front Lines.