News & Politics

Arizona Sheriff: Illegal Border Crossings May Be Underreported by 300%

Arizona Sheriff: Illegal Border Crossings May Be Underreported by 300%
(AP Photo/Astrid Galvan)

On March 19, the president of the Arizona Sheriff’s Association, Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels, wrote an open letter on the border crisis and posted it to Facebook. It lays waste to the narrative that the current policies that encourage migration are a kinder, gentler approach. Dannels directly confronts the hypocrisy of our public health bureaucrats remaining silent on the COVID risks posed by the current crisis while restricting the movement and activities of American citizens.


Dannels details how the Mexican cartels, which he correctly labels transnational criminal organizations (TCOs), use the significant increase in human trafficking to cover for drug smuggling. He also talks passionately about the dangers of placing children in the care of these criminal organizations, which control the southern side of the border entirely. Dannels believes the number of border crossers is grossly underestimated due to monitoring on the Arizona border:

In Cochise County, Arizona they have a sophisticated camera system along migrant routes across the border. These cameras detect significantly more traffic than our federal partners report capturing. In fact, our estimates are that only about 28% of the people crossing illegally are taken into custody. While the scope of the known crisis is enormous, we believe it may be underreported by close to 300%.

Leveling significant criticism at the Biden administration, Dannels notes:

Due to what we believe is misdirected policy from Washington, DC undocumented persons are being released into our communities. This is overloading our NGOs and nonprofits. Once released we have an affirmative responsibility to provide some standard of care for these people. Our local community resources are no longer able to provide social services to our own citizens. We have no meaningful assistance from the federal government. The appearance is of washing their hands of a mess they alone created and leaving it to border communities to struggle through. This is completely unacceptable.

Dannels’s assessment is similar to that of the mayor of Del Rio, Texas, who said his city’s resources are exhausted due to caring for migrants. On Monday, Sheriff Dannels spoke to Glenn Beck, and said the situation has only gotten worse. Dannels, a 37-year veteran of law enforcement at the border, talked openly about the progress made during the Trump administration that President Biden has dismantled. Dannels called President Biden’s executive order on immigration, signed on day one of his presidency, politically and ideologically driven.


When he [President Biden] did that the first day, it sent a message to the cartels and those vulnerable people that “hey, we’re coming across, we’re opening up the border.” He stopped the construction on the border wall, which stopped the perennial technology revenue, resources, and the physical barrier. My three checkpoints are shut down in my county. I’ve got a border patrol station shut down in my county for responding to help my deputies. I’ve got my aerostat shut down and I just learned Friday they removed me from the Homeland Security Council.

When Secretary Mayorkas removed people from this advisory council, it was the first time members were let go since its formation after 9/11. A total of 32 members were relieved of their advisory positions. The letter said the group would reconvene using a new model. All of the members were volunteers who advised the secretary on national security issues using their frontline experience and expertise.

The cartels use roads and physical elements that were part of the border wall construction to improve their smuggling operations. With no proper closure to the project, it has made patrolling the border more difficult. Dannels says Arizona has chaos on the border just taking into consideration the technology and physical barrier problems.

He also detailed how the cartels operate. He talked about the recycling of children who cross the border with multiple adults to gain easier entry. Dannels said the crossing price in his Arizona county is $6,000. When individuals cross and are indebted, illegal migrants become involved in the sex trade, drug smuggling, and gangs. This pattern affects the safety and security of small towns along the border:


It seems like nobody can fix this problem. We had the most powerful leader in the country and that’s our president. Excluding President Trump, who put a lot of effort on this border. I’ve gone through a lot of presidents in my 37 years and I’m telling you it’s rather disgusting. Because it’s like we’re left out of the U.S. when it comes to security, being American, our Constitutional rights are on the southwest border.

Dannels closed with a warning encouraging Americans to reject the open-borders policies of the Biden administration:

Everything coming over the southwest border, whether it’s drugs, whether it’s a national security issue, whether it’s a health pandemic issue, COVID, whatever it may be it’s coming into your neighborhood. We might be the gate to all, but it’s coming into your neighborhoods. They’re not staying in my community. Until they can find the means, the non-governmental programs can get them out of here. Right now, we see charter buses all the time. $1500 a hit to take kids out of our county. $1500 and almost every day you’re seeing them pull out of my county.

On April 21, the pandemic health policies at the border that allow only essential travel will expire. Right now, that order enables Arizona to return border crossers to the Mexican state of Sonora. The state across the border from Texas will not allow border crossers to return. Dannels cautions that if the restriction expires, additional migrants will flood the southwest border.


WATCH the full Interview with Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels:

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