Arizona doesn’t need a moat, just feds to do their job - East Valley Tribune: Columnists

Arizona doesn’t need a moat, just feds to do their job

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Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu

Posted: Thursday, May 26, 2011 1:22 pm | Updated: 8:24 am, Fri May 27, 2011.

President Obama says the border is more secure than ever, declared the border fence complete and said, "These people will never be satisfied until we build a moat and put alligators in the moat." We don't need a moat or alligators in Arizona - we simply need the federal government to do its job and secure the border.

Last year, 219,300 illegal immigrants were apprehended in just one sector of Arizona; many had violent felony criminal records. The U.S. Border Patrol estimates another 400,000 made it safely past them in Arizona and now reside in your community.

If the majority of regular illegal immigrants can sneak into America, what does this say about the ability of terrorist sleeper cells? The porous U.S.-Mexican border is the gravest national security threat facing America. This is no longer just a political fight to stop Barack Obama from giving amnesty to over 12 million illegals. It's also about protecting our nation from terrorist threats. Thousands of illegal entrants hail from State Department countries of interest - Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and others. In some cases, we have confirmed their troubling ties to terrorism. Yet for those we apprehend, how many today live among us?

If the border is secure, why did the feds post 15 billboard signs in Pinal County warning American citizens: "Danger - Public Warning - Travel Not Recommended" due to armed drug cartel smuggling? This is 70 miles into Arizona, where Homeland Security confirms that no fewer than 100 of our beautiful mountains have been repurposed as lookouts for Mexican drug lords.

America can secure the border if we replicate what was accomplished in the Yuma sector, which has attained a 96 percent reduction of illegal border crossings. Sen. John McCain and Sen Jon Kyl have a 10-Point Border Security Plan developed largely from the learned successes of the Yuma sector during Operation Jump Start.

This plan calls for immediate deployment of 6,000 armed soldiers for a period of two years. While soldiers are deployed, the double barrier fence is completed with video surveillance, lighting, sensors and roads to support rapid deployment of U.S. Border Patrol.

We need to focus on the solution to secure our border, not on a path to citizenship or amnesty for 12 million. If President Obama was sincere, why did he not pass immigration reform in his first two years, when he had super-majorities in the House and Senate? Instead, in a purely politically and racially divisive manner, he says he'll fight now when there is little hope of passage. The president has failed to fulfill his core constitutional duty to protect America.

President Obama led us to believe he would end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. We're no closer to leaving than when he made these false promises. He bombs Libya for humanitarian reasons and yet ignores the outcry of neighboring Mexico in its war against the drug cartels, which have claimed over 35,000 lives and nearly toppled their government. Mexico is America's second-largest trading partner and we share nearly 2,000 miles of porous border, which presents a far graver national security threat than anything we face in the Middle East.

Mexico is not our enemy. The cartels are the enemy of Mexico and America. They have brought their violence here to America. Local sheriffs can't fight them alone. We can address this growing threat, or we can make jokes, laugh and believe the border is more secure than ever.

• Paul Babeu is the Pinal County Sheriff and president of the Arizona Sheriff's Association

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