House approves $5 million for Pinal County to battle border crime

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PINAL COUNTY, Ariz. – An outspoken Arizona sheriff will be receiving financial help for border security.

Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu asked for money to keep fighting illegal immigration and drug smuggling and a House committee voted 13-0  Wednesday in favor of giving his county alone millions of dollars for more round-ups and patrols.

It is uncommon to see an immigration-related bill pass in Arizona with a unanimous bipartisan support. The bill goes toward funding border security, which is very important at the Capitol, even if it only tackles border security in one particular part of the state.

The so-called Border Crime Unit Act will funnel $5 million to Pinal County to help Babeu’s deputies fight border crime.

“He’s not going into neighborhoods and sweeping people up,” House Speaker Kirk Adams said. “What this Border Crimes Unit is doing is going proactively at the drug cartels while they are bringing their cargo into the country.

Adams is a sponsor of the bill, although he does not represent Pinal County.

“Are we going to take on these drug cartels or not?" Adams asked. "Sheriff Babeu is doing it and he needs the support of Arizona.”

The $5 million will reportedly go toward equipment and supplies to help Pinal County.
Democratic Rep. Chad Campbell voted for the bill but said he has some reservations.

“This bill is very limited," Campbell said. "It’s only $5 million, it goes to one county and though it’s helpful for that particular county, I don’t think it was the best and most comprehensive way to address this issue.”

Babeu said he is thankful for the support and adds that Pinal County needs the resources now more than anywhere else in the state.