Some border residents say they live in 'militarized' zone

Posted: Updated:
(Source: 3TV and CBS 5) (Source: 3TV and CBS 5)
(Source: 3TV and CBS 5) (Source: 3TV and CBS 5)
(Source: 3TV and CBS 5) (Source: 3TV and CBS 5)
(24 HOURS ON THE BORDER) -

The number of U.S. Border Patrol agents has doubled since the year 2000, helping to stem the influx of illegal drugs and border crossers. But some border-area residents say there is a downside to this buildup. They believe their privacy is gone.

"We have surveillance towers. There’s one that’s visible from here in Arivaca," said Peter Ragan, who lives 20 miles north of the border with Mexico, in a town called Arivaca.

[MAP: Arivaca, AZ]

Ragan and others argue that the federal agents posted on hilltops and driving through their communities, the immigration checkpoints located as far as 25-miles north of the border, the government aircraft and surveillance towers combine to make them feel like they’re living in a militarized zone.

"I’ve been here since ’78 and I’ve never been afraid of an immigrant. However, it is very disconcerting to be approached by a Border Patrol agent with his hand on his gun," said Patty Miller, who also lives in Arivaca.

Residents of this town, like the residents of many other border communities, must pass through an immigration checkpoint every time they go to the supermarket, the doctor or just leave town. Stories of citizens having their vehicles searched for drugs are as common as cactuses in these communities.

Border Patrol officials say they are aware of the concerns.\

I’ve been here since ’78 and I’ve never been afraid of an immigrant. However, it is very disconcerting to be approached by a Border Patrol agent with his hand on his gun.

"I will meet with members of the community," said Felix Chavez, who is the deputy chief patrol agent of the Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector.

Chavez argues that communication with the community has helped lessen the impact on residents.

But the reality is that the Border Patrol’s goal of reducing the flow of undocumented immigrants and illegal drugs may never align with the wishes of the rural communities, whose residents often move to the country for peace, quiet and privacy.

[STATS: What did NOT come across the border?]

"Why would we live here, except for the peace and quiet?" asked Miller.

While the number of immigrants apprehended by Border Patrol agents in the Tucson sector has decreased some 90 percent since 2000, from 600,000 to just 60,000 last year, residents of Arivaca and other border communities say they’re worried that the Trump administration may add more agents and equipment to their neighborhoods.

[INFOGRAMS: Border apprehensions by year | Border apprehensions in AZ, rest of country (2000-2016)]

"Immigration is as low as it’s been for decades. Law enforcement is ever increasing. And so what does law enforcement have to do in that situation, but scrutinize and affect the lives of people living in the borderlands," said Ragan.

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


Power of 2 Special Report

Morgan  LoewMorgan Loew is an investigative reporter at CBS 5 News. His career has taken him to every corner of the state, lots of corners in the United States, and some far-flung corners of the globe.

Click to learn more about Morgan .

Morgan Loew
CBS 5 Investigates

Morgan’s past assignments include covering the invasion of Iraq, human smuggling in Mexico, vigilantes on the border and Sheriff Arpaio in Maricopa County. His reports have appeared or been featured on CBS News, CNN, NBC News, MSNBC and NPR.

Morgan’s peers have recognized his work with 11 Rocky Mountain Emmy Awards , two regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for investigative reporting, an SPJ First Amendment Award and a commendation from the Humane Society of the United States. Last fall, Morgan was inducted into the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Silver Circle, in recognition of 25 years of contribution to the television industry in Arizona.

Morgan is a graduate of the University of Arizona journalism school and Concord Law School. He is the president of the Arizona First Amendment Coalition and teaches media law and TV news reporting at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

When he’s not out looking for the next big news story, Morgan enjoys hiking, camping, cheering for the Arizona Wildcats and spending time with his family at their southern Arizona ranch.

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Dennis WlechVeteran political reporter Dennis Welch is a well-respected political expert in Arizona.

Dennis Welch
Political Editor

Before making the move to television, Welch wrote and edited for the Arizona Guardian, a highly influential online news site dedicated to Arizona politics and government where he served as owner and editor. During his Guardian days, Welch was a frequent guest on “Politics Unplugged” and has been a regular fixture on the state political landscape since 2005 appearing on numerous radio and television talk shows. “I am thrilled to start working with such a talented and dedicated staff of journalists,” said Welch. “This is a great opportunity to broaden the reach of my political coverage and tell stories that affect Arizona voters and their families.” With more than 13 years of experience under his belt, Welch’s arrival only strengthens 3TV’s commitment to providing first-rate political and government coverage across all platforms. When not covering politics, Welch is an avid runner and fronts a punk rock band that plays frequently throughout the Southwest and California. Welch is a well-respected political expert in Arizona and his addition means 3TV will provide a stronger, more robust political presence in Arizona. He joins 3TV from the Arizona Guardian, a highly influential online news site dedicated to Arizona politics and government where he served as owner and editor. During his Guardian days, Welch was a frequent guest on “Politics Unplugged” and has been a regular fixture on the state political landscape since 2005 appearing on numerous radio and television talk shows. “I am thrilled to start working with such a talented and dedicated staff of journalists,” said Welch. “This is a great opportunity to broaden the reach of my political coverage and tell stories that affect Arizona voters and their families.” With more than 13 years of experience under his belt, Welch’s arrival only strengthens 3TV’s commitment to providing first-rate political and government coverage across all platforms. When not covering politics, Welch is an avid runner and fronts a punk rock band that plays frequently throughout the Southwest and California.

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