Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Our Opinion: Immigration slows, border violence worsening

At the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives offices in Phoenix, Tom Mangan, a spokesman for the ATF, last year shows some of the large-caliber bullets that are sought by Mexican drug cartels.

At the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives offices in Phoenix, Tom Mangan, a spokesman for the ATF, last year shows some of the large-caliber bullets that are sought by Mexican drug cartels.

The number of U.S. residents here illegally has declined, a rare occurrence that the Department of Homeland Security links to rising unemployment and more rigorous border enforcement.

But another factor that may be deterring immigration is the fact that border violence is up – way up – with drug cartels engaging in rapes, murders, kidnappings and gunbattles virtually in our backyard.

Indeed, Phoenix is now second only to Mexico City for kidnappings with ransom.

Last year, Phoenix reported 3,664 abductions, most linked with Mexican human smugglers and narcotics gangs, USA TODAY reports.

And Pima and Cochise counties have seen more and more “rape trees,” where women migrants are raped and their clothes hung on display.

State Sen. Jonathan Paton, R-Tucson, is proposing legislation to make harboring an illegal immigrant a felony and to prosecute those who help smugglers, among other changes.

The most effective response to these crimes, however, will hinge on the coordination of local, state and federal law enforcement, as encouraged by Attorney General Terry Goddard.

Better yet would be cooperation and coordination with officials in Sonora, Mexico, as well.

As Paton noted in a news release, “Hundreds of people are being kidnapped, raped and killed. Body parts are cut off if ransoms aren’t paid fast enough. Drug cartel members are being assassinated in our own state.”

In addition, the firepower employed by the drug cartels is horrifying.

Goddard showed a .50-caliber rifle to legislators this week, noting, “Those bullets pierce armor. They will go through armor, and they will go through tanks.”

As southern Arizona morphs into a battleground for dueling drug cartels, the Attorney General’s Office must do everything conceivable to coordinate law enforcement responses and keep our citizens safe.

Last year, the state’s Operation Tumbleweed led to 59 arrests and broke up a ring suspected of smuggling 400,000 pounds of marijuana a year, for several years, into the U.S.

We hope more such operations can be waged and completed to deter not only marijuana smugglers, but also those dealing in worse drugs and those who smuggle human beings.

We wish innocent illegal immigrants would refrain from crossing the border – especially while this violence is raging.

And we hope Arizonans and Sonorans alike can look forward to expanded binational law enforcement efforts to keep us all safe.

This escalating border violence must be quelled, the sooner the better.

Citizen Online Archive, 2006-2009

This archive contains all the stories that appeared on the Tucson Citizen's website from mid-2006 to June 1, 2009.

In 2010, a power surge fried a server that contained all of videos linked to dozens of stories in this archive. Also, a server that contained all of the databases for dozens of stories was accidentally erased, so all of those links are broken as well. However, all of the text and photos that accompanied some stories have been preserved.

For all of the stories that were archived by the Tucson Citizen newspaper's library in a digital archive between 1993 and 2009, go to Morgue Part 2

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