Bill Hess, Sierra Vista Herald Review (Ariz.), Jan. 12
PHOENIX — A pamphlet put out by the Mexican government that purports to be a safety manual for those who cross the border illegally is harming Arizona, Gov. Janet Napolitano said Tuesday.
The government of Mexico is interfering with the state’s security, she said in a telephone interview with the Herald/Review.
“It’s a how to illegally cross, not how to legally enter (the United States),” she said.
The pamphlet prepared by the Mexican government is being inserted into a popular comic book and handed out to Mexican citizens living in some of the poorer states of Mexico.
In her State of the State speech Monday before the Arizona Legislature, Napolitano said federal politicians in Washington, D.C., are not meeting their responsibilities in controlling the border.
“Arizona has more people illegally crossing our southern border than the other three border states (California, New Mexico and Texas) combined. It is time for the national government to step in, devote the resources and do its job of protecting the border,” she told the legislators.
In the last federal fiscal year — Oct. 1, 2003 through Sept. 30, 2004 — nearly 490,000 illegal immigrants were apprehended by Border Patrol agents in the Tucson Sector, a region that includes all of Arizona, except for the far western area near Yuma. Of that number more than 235,000 were taken into custody in Cochise County, a region that shares 83 miles of the border with Mexico.
The border, which the governor said is broken, “has real financial consequences” for Arizona.
“Did you know that today, Arizona taxpayers pay to imprison nearly 4,000 people who were already here illegally and broke our state laws? Federal law requires the federal government to either pay for these prisoners or take them off our hands,” Napolitano said in her speech.
During the interview, she said it cost about $23,000 a year for people in confinement. Based on 4,000 illegal immigrant inmates that equates to $92 million annually.
But the problem isn’t only for the U.S. government.
“It is time for the Mexican government to do its part to control illegal immigration,” the governor told the state’s lawmakers.
The U.S. government needs to put more resources — unmanned aerial vehicles, sensors and manpower — along the border, Napolitano told the Herald/Review. That has been an outcry for years, especially by people who live along the international boundary in places such as Cochise County, she said.
For the Mexican federal government to wring their hands, say their hands are tied and that they can’t do anything is not the truth, Napolitano said. Mexico can go after the people smugglers and can look into the hotels and their owners that have sprung up in border towns south of the boundary that cater to illegal immigrants, she said.