Tim Steller: Let’s Hear From All on Border Security
You shouldn’t have to wear a cowboy hat to be heard on border security.
And you shouldn’t have to view the border as out-of-control for politicians or reporters to pay attention.
But increasingly, both appear required. To count as a credible source, you must be a rancher who thinks border-security is poor. A Stetson is preferred.
Otherwise, you simply don’t fit the story line.
Gov. Jan Brewer toured the border by helicopter, met with Border Patrol union officials and spoke with a group of border-area ranchers Tuesday before returning to Tucson and declaring the border insecure.
It was pretty clear that day whom she would ask, but I wanted to know the specifics. So Wednesday night, I asked Brewer’s spokesman, Matt Benson, by email the names of the ranchers who met with Brewer Tuesday and helped convince her our border remains insecure.
“I know that those individuals preferred to meet in private in order to allow them to be absolutely candid and so that their identities would not be exposed to the cartels, et cetera,” he responded.
When I wrote back that I considered it important to know who the ranchers are in order to know whether the governor got a representative sample of opinion, Benson’s next email said this: “Do you know a lot of ranchers in Southern Arizona who think concerns about the border are overblown?”
Actually, plenty of ranchers and other rural residents around here do not feel overrun by illegal immigrants.
But Art Del Cueto, the president of National Border Patrol Council Local 2544, doubts DHS will come up with a dependable measure of security. Del Cueto, who met with Brewer Tuesday, wants border security assessments to come from on-the-ground accounts.
“They say the border’s secure, but no one’s bothered to ask the agents if the border’s secure,” he said.
OK, I say we hear from line agents - not just their chiefs - along with borderland ranchers and townspeople. A representative sampling will give us a good picture of the state of play on the border.
The experiences of all sorts of people who live and work on the border matter, even if they don’t wear cowboy hats.
One reason this is an important issue is that anti-immigration advocates are using the mysterious measure of ‘border security’ to hold up immigration reform. That means Jan Brewer is using anonymous testimony to deny legalization to millions of people who, by any sane consideration, deserve it.
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