Washington, D.C.– Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva today condemned the Arizona Senate Appropriations Committee passage of Senate Bill 1083, which would create and fund an armed militia along the Arizona-Mexico border. Under the control of the governor, the armed militia would supplement law enforcement and be able to pursue, arrest and detain individuals.
In approving the language yesterday, the Senate Appropriations Committee budgeted $1.4 million for a 300-person militia.
“This legislation is not just silly and irresponsible, it’s a public safety threat,” Grijalva said. “To arm individuals, provide paper-thin weapons training and deliberately place them in danger disrespects the taxpayers of our great state and cheapens the professionalism of our border security agents.”
Rep. Grijalva was an original co-sponsor in the 111th Congress of H.R. 6080, which became law and increased salary and law enforcement funding for Immigration and Customs Enforcement staff and Customs and Border Protection officials.
At a Feb. 10 field hearing Grijalva hosted in Nogales alongside Reps. Luis Gutierrez, Michael Honda and Silvestre Reyes, Santa Cruz Sheriff Tony Estrada testified that his county “enjoy[s] a lifestyle that is almost free from violent crime,” partly because it has “the highest ratio of law enforcement personnel to residents in the country [and] there are about 1,000 Border Patrol agents serving in Santa Cruz County – more than ten times the number from just three decades ago.”
At the same hearing, Estrada – who has more than four decades of law enforcement experience – said, “Regardless of the rhetoric that we hear, it is not raining bullets here in Nogales and Santa Cruz County.”
In questioning the need for a taxpayer-funded armed militia, Grijalva called on the legislature to “focus on real problems and solutions instead of using a fictitious version of border politics to win elections.”
In fiscal year 2011, U.S. Border Patrol apprehensions– a key indicator of illegal immigration– decreased to 340,252, down 53 percent since FY2008 and one fifth of their peak in FY 2000. Since 2004, the size of the Border Patrol has doubled to 21,444.There are currently more than 5,000 Border Patrol agents in Arizona.
Analysis of the FBI Uniform Crime Reports found that rates of violent crime along the U.S.-Mexico border have been falling for years – even before the U.S. security buildup that has included thousands of law enforcement officers and expansion of a massive fence along the border.
Arizona and Mexico share 361 miles of border. Currently, more than 3,800 Border Patrol Agents are working in the Tucson and Yuma Sector.
For Sheriff Estrada’s border hearing testimony, visit http://1.usa.gov/wWnjSm. For testimony from border economic consultant Terry Shannon, visit http://1.usa.gov/ytEsWJ. For testimony from safe border activist Gary Brasher, visit http://1.usa.gov/xrS5XE.