Legislator ditches border warnings proposal - East Valley Tribune: Ahwatukee Foothills

Legislator ditches border warnings proposal

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Posted: Tuesday, March 13, 2012 2:03 pm | Updated: 3:42 pm, Sat Dec 22, 2012.

Verbally battered by local officials, a southern Arizona lawmaker is abandoning her proposal to warn area residents and visitors about dangers from illegal immigrants.

Rep. Peggy Judd, R-Willcox, said Tuesday she crafted changes to both narrow the scope of her legislation as well as who would get the warnings. But Judd said that a meeting with area mayors and tourism officials on Monday resulted in a unanimous consensus.

“They came to the meeting and they said ‘no,’” she said, preferring no legislation at all. “Unfortunately, no citizens were represented.”

Judd told Capitol Media Services she believes they are out of step with area residents who have told her they still want the warnings. But she said the failure of her measure means they will have to instead pressure local law enforcement agencies to provide the information HB 2586 would have made available at a single location.

The legislation which had gained preliminary House approval would have required the head of the state Department of Homeland Security to monitor intelligence from various sources to determine if they indicate “any type of warning about dangerous conditions in regard to illegal immigration activities.”

What caused the concern is that it permitted the agency director to disseminate that information “in a manner that will immediately warn the public of the danger.” That could include not only telling the local media, but also everything from Facebook and Twitter to direct e-mails to those who have asked to be notified.

There were also complaints that the legislation would have provided the alerts only to dangers within 62 miles of the Mexican border.

Judd said she removed that reference to the border region. She also narrowed the kind of alerts that would be provided regarding illegal drug and human trafficking.

And Judd said she offered to limit the notification to only those who specifically register with the state to be informed.

“So it would never be on a tourism website or a Realtor website,” she said. “It wouldn’t be given out freely like that.”

But Jim DiGiacomo, executive director of the Green Valley-Sahuarita Chamber of Commerce, said none of that made the measure any better.

“The damage has been done,” he said, just through Judd’s introduction of the measure. DiGiacomo said the best course of action was to bury the measure permanently.

He said the area needs to maintain its relationships, “including with our friends in Mexico.”

“We have to continuously defend against the negatives regarding travel checkpoints,” DiGiacomo said. He said Judd’s legislation only made matters worse.

“We understand there’s a lot of responsibility and pressure on our representatives,” he said.

“We commend them for that commitment,” DiGiacomo continued. “However, homework needs to be done because if you don’t know the area, you don’t know what has happened.”

Judd said that, given the continued opposition, she would not pursue the plan.

But the first-term lawmaker said local residents believe the need for information remains.

“If they feel like they need it, they’re going to have to go to their own local governments and own local tourism and say, ‘You know what? We’ve got to have this information to keep our families safe when we’re going from Point A to Point B in Arizona,’” she said.

Judd said that can be critical for those traveling in the area.

“It may be awesome in Nogales,” she said. “But when I go to visit my grandma in Tucson, I would like to have this information.”

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