Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., presented the case last week to fast-track construction of the fence along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff cleared the way Tuesday for another 220 miles of fence and roads to be constructed through Arizona without having to comply with environmental regulations.
Appearing on Fox News on Wednesday, Kyl said: "You've got to secure the borders if you're a sovereign country. And we're never going to have further immigration reform in this country if we don't get control of our borders."
OOPS, WRONG STATE
The senator also discussed some of the details of the fence and helped geographically challenged cable-news anchor Jon Scott locate the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in the proper state.
Some of their conversation ...
SCOTT: Sen. Kyl, parts of this virtual fence, it's my understanding, in Texas, would go through Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, for instance. And there are opponents who don't want the roads built, and that kind of thing that you need to maintain the towers. Right?
KYL: First of all, get a couple of things straight. The virtual fence is not what we're talking about here. We're talking about actual fencing. Secondly, actual fencing works. I was just in the Yuma sector between Arizona and Mexico. And because of the amount of fencing that's been constructed there, the number of illegal border crossings is down substantially. Third, where it goes through federal land, especially, there is great consultation on environmental matters. It is true that they can accelerate the construction of the fence because of the waivers that the law provides for. It's not as if the secretary is acting outside the law.
SCOTT: Well, and that's the argument. The secretary is pushing through the fence by using these waivers, that, as you say, he has the power to invoke. Right?
KYL: That's right. And he just testified - I just came from his testimony. And it's very clear that Congress is pushing him to hurry up and do the fence. So he's doing what we're asking him to do. We gave him the authority for the waivers. We've given him the money. And we've said, "Get about the job." And he says that he can complete the amount of fencing that he's been talking about now by the end of this year.
SCOTT: Well, it's my understanding that the virtual fence, which I talked about earlier, going through some of those national monuments, that would require road building. Even though you're not building a physical fence like the kind we see on our screen here, you need to build those giant towers, 100 feet tall or so. People want to put roads through some of these national monuments, and that has some of the environmentalists upset.
KYL: Well, first of all, there are roads through the national monuments. Organ Pipe is in Arizona. I'm very familiar with our forests, our monuments, our game refuges. And in all cases where they are adjacent to the border, it is necessary to have protection at the border, but we also are very concerned about ensuring that the reason why they're monuments or game refuges are not destroyed by whatever is constructed. But let's just stop and think for a moment. Even a light on top of a pole or a camera on top of a pole has a very small footprint. And the roads that do need to be constructed in most cases are either already there or are very unobtrusive. It's not like you're building a paved highway through the middle of a national monument.
On Thursday, the House unanimously passed Rep. Harry Mitchell's, D-Ariz., legislation reauthorizing the U.S. Fire Administration and strengthening efforts to fight urban wildfires.
Mitchell's legislation, according to his office, authorizes $293 million to extend the Fire Administration for four year and provides firefighters with modern training on response coordination to multiple large-scale events, hazardous material incidents, and advanced emergency medical services issues.
"Here in Arizona, we know too well how dangerous urban wildfires can be, and the threat of urban wildfires continues to grow," Mitchell said in a statement.
"As we approach this wildfire season, we have a special responsibility to make sure our firefighters have the tools they need to keep us safe in the long-term," he said.
At a recent speaking engagement in Chandler, Mitchell said he learned the hard way that there are certain topics that are best treated with utmost respect - particularly in Snowflake.
The town in the White Mountains was established by Mormon pioneers Erastus Snow and William Flake in 1878, and named after its founders.
Mitchell recalled traveling through the picturesque town a while back and stopping at an ice cream shop, where two girls were working behind the counter. He struck up a conversation with one of them.
"I was being a little flippant and I said, 'Are you a Flake or a Snow?' And she said, 'I think I'm mainly a Flake.' So there is a proud tradition there!" Mitchell said.
That tradition extends beyond the White Mountains. One of the ice cream girl's relatives, Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., is another descendent of William Flake.
McCAIN TOUR TARGETS
Veteran campaign strategist Ned Barnett figured that John McCain targeted two distinct audiences with his "Service to America" tour, which concluded in Prescott on Saturday: new voters and members of the Fourth Estate.
OK, no surprise concerning new voters. But, the press corps was something of a surprise. After all, McCain is widely considered to be something of a media darling.
"It's not that they don't know who he is," Barnett said. "But they focus on, 'OK, he's the guy who did McCain-Feingold and he's the guy who did McCain-Kennedy and he's the guy who did these crossover bills.' So, they see him in action as what (Barack) Obama has said what he would do in principle, but has never done in action, which is to cross over party lines and come up with bipartisan or coalition or compromise solutions to major problems and issues."
According to Barnett, a Las Vegas-based consultant who has worked for both Republicans and Democrats, the tour was designed to remind reporters that McCain is more than just the sum of his legislation.
"He's trying to say, 'When you look at me, remember that Hillary (Clinton) is saying, 'I've got more experience than Obama, and her experience was eight years as first lady and she's having to embellish what she did in Bosnia to even be taken seriously as having experience. So wait a minute. I have real experience. I had more experience in serving this country before Hillary was out of law school,'" Barnett said.