More border security resources headed to Tucson and southern ArizonaPosted: Updated:
In just two weeks, hundreds of troops will head to the border.
Monday, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced 1,200 national guard troops will be heading for the border August 1.
"National guard is there to support the efforts of law enforcement, not to have a direct law enforcement role, not to confront unless confronted any particular threat. So this is a question of supporting law enforcement," says Alan Bersin from Customs & Border Protection.
540 troops will be stationed on the Arizona-Mexico border. The rest will help secure borders in California, New Mexico and Texas.
In a pentagon briefing, administration officials revealed a list of border security measures for the Tucson sector; including a new immigration and customs enforcement office in Ajo, a task force of specially trained agents in Douglas, more ICE attorneys to prosecute border criminals, and more ICE officers south of the border.
"We're going to be able to jointly investigate with Mexican authorities the smugglers who live and operate on the Mexican side."
Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada finds the news encouraging, "They have ignored Mexico and the issues that they're having and the drugs that are coming through to a point that right now it is a challenge."
Santa Cruz County has become one of the most active sections of the U.S.-mexico border. Monday's briefing also covered rules of engagement for national guard troops along the border who-- we now know-- will be armed.
"They're the same as our counter narcotics teams that are there now for self preservation only self defense only."
"If they have confrontations obviously with people who are coming across the border that can be really dangerous."
Many people living in Santa Cruz County agree with the administration and their sheriff, "You know they throw rocks and stuff at the border patrol and all that stuff. It really didn't get hectic until they started hurting people."
Sheriff Estrada says these measures will help control the border, but he wants the next step to include immigration reform, "It is more secure, it is more safe but one thing I can tell you it will never be sealed."
Arizona Governor Jan Brewer will use a big chunk of her discretionary federal stimulus money to support law enforcement on the border. Nearly $10M in grants will be distributed, much of it going to buy vehicles.
A quick look at the numbers here in southern Arizona: Cochise, Pima and Santa Cruz counties as well as the department of public safety all will receive more than $1m.
Several municipalities also will receive money, including the towns of Patagonia and Sahuarita, also the Tohono O'odham nation and the cities of Benson, Bisbee, Douglas and Nogales.