Arizona Sen. David Farnsworth (R), who was born in Mexico City, Mexico, while his father worked there for the American government, wants to see a wall built to blockade illegal immigrants from leaving his birth country and jumping over a fence to get into the nation in which he grew up.
There is a fence running intermittently along the Arizona-Mexico border, but Farnsworth told PJM it isn’t nearly good enough. Farnsworth is not alone in his displeasure with the fence. Some of the Republican’s more liberal fellow Arizonans don’t like the fence either, but for a different reason.
Liberals and illegal alien activists are bothered by the fact that so many illegal immigrants are breaking their legs and other bones when they fall off the fence while climbing over it from Sonora, Mexico, into Nogales, Arizona.
As of July, the Arizona Daily Star reported 37 migrants with busted legs, feet and spines had gone to the Mexican Consulate in Tucson after falling off the border fence. Fifty-six such injuries were reported in all of 2014.
A spokeswoman for a migrant shelter in Nogales said they were seeing 20 to 30 injured men and women a month.
“What surprises us is that people continue to jump from heights that can be the equivalent of a two- or even three-story house,” Fernando Valdez, Mexico’s deputy consul, said. “But we hear they feel pressured to do it because they are holding the line or they start insulting them, telling them to jump.”
Farnsworth doesn’t like to see anyone hurt, of course. But if they do fall off the fence, he would just as soon they bounce back to where they came from.
“The border is very porous and we in Arizona in particular have been severely damaged by that,” Farnsworth said. “The expense of illegal immigration is tremendous.”
The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) put the cost to Arizona at $2.6 billion a year in 2012. A spokesman said that covered education, medical and incarceration costs.
The study released by FAIR also showed nearly half of all illegal border crossings into the U.S. from Mexico occur in Arizona. From 2001 to 2010, an average of 1,374 illegal aliens a day were apprehended in the Arizona border sector. FAIR said the Department of Homeland Security does not know how many illegal aliens successfully entered Arizona each day during that period.
Farnsworth admitted he had barely scanned Donald Trump’s plan to deal with illegal immigration that came out in mid-August. But overall, if Trump is elected, Farnsworth might say to him — please Mr. President, build that wall.
Trump doesn’t only want to build what would amount to a Great Wall of Border Security, he wants Mexico to pay for it.
“In short, the Mexican government has taken the United States to the cleaners. They are responsible for this problem, and they must help pay to clean it up,” said Trump’s campaign statement on immigration reform.
“The cost of building a permanent border wall pales mightily in comparison to what American taxpayers spend every single year on dealing with the fallout of illegal immigration on their communities, schools and unemployment offices.”
There are those in Arizona who argue a fence would be more practical and cost-effective, said Farnsworth. But he also noted there are limitations to the fence that is now in place.
“There is a section where someone on the Mexican side used a welding torch to cut out a hole in the fence and drove through,” said Farnsworth. “Our officials had to weld it back up again.”
As much as Farnsworth would like to see the federal government take the lead on this, he doesn’t think it will ever happen as long as Barack Obama is in the White House.
“I don’t trust the federal government to do anything,” he said.
“We have been looking into electronic surveillance in the state Senate,” Farnsworth said. “But that idea hasn’t gotten a whole lot of traction yet. Everything is expensive and with the economic downturn it is hard to get money for anything.”
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) decided in July to increase state funding for border security by a little over half-a-million dollars. But that seems like a drop in the bucket to Arizonans who voted for Ducey in the 2014 election because of his promise to do “whatever it takes, where that is more fencing, satellites or new technology” to make the border more secure.
Mary Bixley told the Arizona Republic she voted for Ducey in November and was beginning to feel some “buyer’s remorse.”
“He’s done nothing,” the 76-year-old woman said. “I think he just said what we wanted to hear.”
Ducey did promise in one campaign ad “fencing, satellites, guardsmen, more police and prosecutors. We’ll get this done. If Barack Obama won’t do the job, Arizonans will.”
Farnsworth agreed moving an extra $557 million to sheriff’s departments along the Mexico border was not enough. But then again, he said, there is only so much Arizona can do on its own.
“We could spend the whole state budget on the border and I am not sure it would solve the problem,” Farnsworth said.
Farnsworth spoke with PJM while he was driving to a meeting of constituents to talk about better border security.
“I don’t have an answer. I am looking for a solution.”