What would a border 'surge' mean for Arizona?
Photo: Video by kgun9.com
CREATED Jun. 20, 2013
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - The proposal calls for a border “surge" by doubling the number of agents on the ground and adding 700 miles of fencing along the southwest border. What would that mean for Arizona? And, why do some agents think it’s a bad idea?
U.S. Senators John McCain, Jeff Flake and others are pushing an immigration overhaul bill in the Senate. Thursday, other senators put forth an amendment that would add 700 miles of new fencing, 3,500 more customs officers and 20,000 more border agents. That would double the number of Border Patrol staff.
“We are on the verge of a huge breakthrough on border security,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York.
Flake backed the proposal, agreeing with the "border surge" nickname that's emerged.
He told KGUN9 he doesn't know just how many of those new resources Arizona would get, but he thinks it'd be significant. The Tucson stretch of the border sees the most apprehensions and marijuana seizures than any other.
“I'm sure it's going to be kind of a risk-based strategy,” Flake said. “That's where a lot of the action is; that's where a lot of the investment will go.”
McCain's staff added, if the proposal passed, Arizona's Border Patrol would house 40 more helicopters, utilize dozens of new surveillance systems, and install 685 more ground sensors.
“The head of the Border Patrol has assured us that if these technologies are in place and operational, that we can have 100 percent situational awareness and 90 percent effective control of the border,” McCain said, backing the “surge.”
The head of Tucson's Border Patrol union opposed the move.
“The honest to goodness truth is: you have so many agents right now and you're not taking care of the ones you have,” Art Del Cueto said.
Del Cueto said right now agents can't get necessities like new uniforms and boots when their old ones wear out. He said that’s because Customs and Border Protection is dragging its feet.
“You're going to turn around and hire other ones,” he said. “How about taking care of the ones that are here right now?”
The border “surge" amendment has won over some Republicans, who now support the immigration overhaul bill. Sponsors said that improved the chances of passing the bill.
A key part of the amendment is that the new agents and better security would need to be in place before any illegal immigrants would get on pathway to citizenship, McCain said.
The bill still has hurdles to pass in the Senate before possibly moving on to the House.