JIM SHARPE

Fix the border before fixing Washington or Arizona will be waiting forever

Oct 23, 2023, 2:00 PM

U.S. Border Patrol made 2,063,692 migrant arrests along the southwest border during Fiscal Year 2023, which ended in September. While that’s a 7% drop from the previous fiscal year’s record-setting 2,214,652 million arrests, Arizona’s numbers are on the rise — and they’re the highest of anywhere in the country. 

So forgive us if we’re not celebrating here.

About 51,000 migrant arrests occurred during September in the Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector — the most of any sector in America. And the most in the U.S. for the third month in a row.

U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly visited that part of the border last week — and seemed to say the right things to Mike Broomhead afterward. But Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels, whose county shares 80 miles of border with Mexico. told me on Arizona’s Morning News that he — and other officials from his county — were frustrated with their 25-minute meeting with the senator.

It wasn’t just lack of face time that created that frustration for the locals — it was a lack of the content that Sheriff Dannels believes is the most important of any border meeting: what’s happening locally on the border.

“The community impact that nobody wants to talk about. Everybody wants to talk about what’s broken in D.C.,” Dannels told me. “We have to get down to these communities on the border and fix it right now. Every day that goes by there’s another tragedy that we’re addressing somewhere on the southwest border.” 

Including the thousands of real — and possible — tragedies created by the almost 23,000 children who crossed the border, unaccompanied, in Fiscal Year 2023 — just in the Tucson Sector.

Yes, Washington is broken and some of that brokenness comes from partisanship — but if you want to pin partisanship on Sheriff Dannels for criticizing Sen. Kelly because Dannels is a Republican and Kelly is a Democrat, remember that Dannels has been complimentary of Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs when she went from just pointing a finger at Washington to actually applying local resources to the border.

That’s something Sheriff Dannels has been doing for years — and something he’ll expand on this week because, like most Arizonans, he’s tired of waiting in Washington — and he’s tired of the people representing us in Washington saying “Washington is broken” — a talking point that almost every politician has used since… 

…well, since I became eligible to vote. 

Jim Sharpe

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Fix the border before fixing Washington or Arizona will be waiting forever