Issue Position: Border
"She's probably the best advocate for border security that we've ever had down here." -- Dr. Gary Thrasher, Cochise County rancher and veterinarian
Border security is national security, and the fight to secure the border is one of my top priorities.
Unfortunately, for years, the federal government has failed to secure the border or fix our broken immigration laws. Arizonans are angry and so am I.
We will secure our border by working across party lines to produce concrete results for Arizona. That is what I have been doing and while a lot of work remains, we have taken important steps forward in the past four years:
Boots on the Ground. The number of Border Patrol personnel assigned to the Tucson Sector has increased by 57
percent since Fiscal Year 2005 -- and by 31 percent in the last two years alone -- to a current force of more than 3,200.We have deployed 25 Mobile Surveillance Systems and we increased the number of Border Patrol horse units, which are highly effective in the rugged country along the border.
$600 Million Funding. I recently pushed through $600 million in border security funding, which was signed into law last month. We put better, smarter border security in Southern Arizona so we don't continue to suffer under the past policies that aided California and Texas and hurt our communities.
Ultralights Bill. In September of 2010, the House passed the Ultralight Smuggling Prevention Act, which I introduced with my Republican colleague from Nevada, Congressman Dean Heller. The bill goes after the newest method that the drug cartels use to smuggle drugs -- ultralights. These are very light aircraft which are used to bring drugs into our country.
NEVA -- Employment Verification. I introduced the New Employee Verification Act (NEVA) with my Republican colleague from Texas, Congressman Sam Johnson. It would create a new mandatory electronic employment verification system along with a voluntary biometric pilot program. This will be more effective than the current E-Verify system.
The Deployment of the National Guard to the border. I was the first elected official to call for the deployment after Rob Krentz was killed. In letters and personal meetings I asked the President and Secretary Napolitano to approve the deployment. The President approved 1200 troops and 560 will come to Arizona. All troops will be in place by the end of September.
I-19 Checkpoint. The upgraded interim checkpoint on I-19 was completed in April. Last year, in a single event, more than 3,200 pounds of marijuana with a street value of $2.6 million was seized at the checkpoint. Apprehensions of illegal immigrants increased by 28 percent in the year following the checkpoint becoming stationary.
Operation Stonegarden. Operation Stonegarden provides resources to enhance law enforcement preparedness and operational readiness along the U.S. borders. In July 2010, I announced that law enforcement agencies in Southern Arizona were to receive more than $9.6 million in federal grants to fund border security operations.
Cell Phone Towers. In April, I sent letters to Verizon Wireless and AT&T about building a cell phone tower in Southeastern Arizona. I also asked Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman David Price for an additional $7 million to build cell phone towers in the San Bernardino Valley.
Stored Value Device Registration and Reporting Act. Stored value devices, somewhat like gift cards, are being used by drug cartels to move illegal money across the U.S.-Mexico border. I introduced a bill with my Republican colleague, San Diego Congressman Brian Bilbray, which would create stiff penalties for knowingly smuggling stored value devices into the United States. Currently, there are NO reporting requirements for stored value cards like there are for cash, traveler's checks or money orders.
Operation Streamline. Largely due to Operation Streamline in Tucson, in Fiscal Year 2009, the District of Arizona had a 44 percent increase in felony case filings -- with 4,294 felony cases filed in Fiscal Year 2009 as compared to 3,023 in Fiscal Year 2008. Arizona ranks first in the Ninth Circuit and third in the nation in criminal case and defendant filings.
State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP). When both President Bush and President Obama did not include money for SCAAP in their Department of Homeland Security budget proposals for Fiscal Year 2009 and Fiscal Year 2010, I pushed back and was successful in getting funding put into these appropriations bills. This provided $420 million in 2009 and $320 million in 2010. The 2011 budget proposal has $320 million for SCAAP. But $320 million is still not enough. I have written to the President and Leadership asking that the budget be increased to $950 million.