The federal government is not doing its job in securing the border. Criminal aliens and drug cartels/gangs south of our border have turned Arizona into the gateway for drug shipping into the U.S. Fifty percent of the pot that comes into the U.S. comes through Arizona and, more recently, heroin smuggling has increased as Mexican drug growers expand their cultivation of poppy fields to make Mexico the No. 2 heroin producer in the world, second only to Afghanistan.
If you don’t believe me, ask Tempe residents about the December 2011 raid that resulted in the arrest of 203 members of the Sinaloa drug cartel, which owns the Mexico/Arizona drug smuggling routes. Or how about the March 3 shooting in a club near Arizona State University in Tempe which left 16 people wounded? The shooting has been tied to rival gangs, traditionally the street distributors of the illegal drugs that come across our borders.
Meanwhile, terrorists mingle with all these criminal elements and quietly slip across the border. Some have been captured and arrested, but many have not.
New York Congressman Peter King, Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, testified on March 21 that hundreds of terrorists, mostly Hezbollah, have already entered the United States and are lurking in sleeper cells throughout the nation.
All of Arizona’s border counties, except Cochise, contain massive amounts of restricted federal land adjacent to the border, including: Coronado National Forest, Tohono O’odham Indian Reservation, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, several national wildlife refuges, and the Barry Goldwater Air Force Range. Law enforcement officers are not allowed to pursue suspects on these restricted federal lands, which gives the illegal border crossers safe passage for, in some cases, at least 100 miles, not to mention a huge advantage over law enforcement.
That’s why some of the most intense intervention and apprehension activity is taking place along Interstate 8, west of Casa Grande, instead of along the border.
A Government Accountability Office Report (Number 11-38) describes the many roadblocks that get in the way of law enforcement agencies, including not only remote terrain but also federal policy that blocks law enforcement access to federal lands.
Do the drug cartels and human smugglers ask permission to cross these restricted lands? No. They ignore the law, knowing that no one will stop them.
State agencies do not have the ability to effectively counter this widespread illegal activity. Sheriffs are limited to law enforcement within their respective counties. The Department of Public Safety is not designed, focused, or trained to counter this type of activity. The federal government could call out the Arizona National Guard, but they won’t and, if the governor activated the Guard, it would drain the state coffers. He who calls out the Guard pays the bill.
For more than six months, a Senate working group composed of retired military, retired Border Patrol and other experts has been meeting to draft legislation (Senate Bill 1083) for an Arizona Special Missions Unit (ASMU) to supplement the efforts of law enforcement and state agencies, including county and municipal leaders, in securing the border with Mexico. The ASMU will be a low-cost, well-trained, statewide mobile force with a major focus on cross-border criminal activity and a goal of protecting the lives and property of the citizens of this state.
SB 1083 is so important for the safety and welfare of our citizens. We need the Arizona Special Missions Unit. I encourage everyone to contact their legislators and the governor to support this legislation. We cannot lose this one.