Saying that a failure by Washington to enforce immigration law has left the Border Patrol "neutered," an Arizona sheriff told Newsmax TV
on Wednesday that what the frontier with Mexico needs is a major deployment of U.S. troops.
"Not 10 miles from the border, 20 miles from the border. On the border. A physical show of force that acts as a real deterrent," Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu told "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner.
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Babeu said his past work commanding a National Guard unit deployed near Yuma, Ariz. — as part of the Operation Jump Start
border security initiative in 2006 — proves the military option works.
"The Yuma sector, we reduced illegal immigration and drug smuggling by 97 percent," said Babeu. "That's what a secure border looks like. Everybody's scratching their head wondering how we can get this done. That's how you get it done."
Babeu applauded Texas Gov. Rick Perry's
deployment of state National Guard troops to the Rio Grande Valley to help stem the recent surge in undocumented migrants, and he used a traffic-enforcement analogy to explain the effect of a visible troop presence.
"If you drive down the street right now and you see a marked patrol car or sheriff's deputy, what happens? Your foot comes off the gas pedal," he said. "That's how we're conditioned."
"So, people who are breaking the law — drug smugglers, illegals that are trying to get in with coyotes — the last person they want to see is an armed soldier," said Babeu.
He said lawbreakers "disrespect our heroes in the Border Patrol" because they know those agents work for a federal system that has gone lax on immigration and customs enforcement.
"As much as I appreciate and value them, they have been neutered, our Border Patrol agents, because there is no consequence. There is no enforcement," said Babeu. "That's why we have illegals caught every day in my county that have been deported 10 times, 12 times, 15 times."
"So, what we have to do is literally have a show of force," he said. "And then we have to start enforcing the law."
What Babeu doesn't want is volunteer patrols by citizens such as those being recruited for the revived Minuteman Project
"I don't fear them, but I'm greatly concerned because you shouldn't have all these different groups there that don't have legitimate law enforcement authority taking actions," said Babeu. "That is a recipe for trouble — I don't know about disaster.
"We've had it happen in my county, and I've urged people against it," he continued. "If you do take matters into your own hands and you're not law enforcement, be prepared for the consequences. That's why this has to be a federal action or a law enforcement action."
Babeu's county is not on the Mexican border; it runs south to north from just above Tucson to just below Phoenix. But he said it's a pass-through for Mexican drug cartels whose activities keep his deputies busy.
He recently announced the arrest of eight scouts working for the Sinaloa cartel, which employs lookouts in remote areas of Arizona and allegedly had equipped these particular suspects for long stays in the wild.
The scouts had use of solar panels, high-powered binoculars, cellphones and encrypted digital walkie-talkies, and were regularly resupplied at their outposts with food and water, said Babeu.
He said it falls to his department to chase down border-hopping drug cartel operatives because the federal government won't.
"We're the ones supposed to answer the 911 calls, not to protect the country," he said, "but we will do so because we swore an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution and our nation."
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