Citizen Staff Writer
U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., has joined with other Republicans to introduce an enforcement-only immigration bill, a month after a more comprehensive approach to immigration failed.
The $3 billion Border Security First Act, offered as an amendment to the Homeland Security Appropriations Bill, would seek to gain control over the entire U.S.-Mexico border, imprison those who re-enter the country illegally and build 700 miles of border fencing.
The bill also bans municipalities from establishing themselves as “sanctuary cities,” while expanding local authority to enforce immigration laws.
Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada would welcome help for his deputies patrolling the border region, but won’t tell them to enforce U.S. immigration law.
“We are already dealing with drugs and rip-offs and shootings,” Estrada said. “I don’t have the resources to tackle that humongous problem.”
Hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants are arrested every year in southern Arizona.
Estrada welcomes the prospect of shutting down the border but calls it a “lofty goal” and is dubious that it is possible.
Illegal immigrants will adapt to whatever the government does, he said.
“They’ll find a hole, they’ll find a tunnel, they’ll find a gap, they’ll find a way,” he said.
Kyl was one of the authors of a compromise comprehensive plan that made him a target of some in his own party who objected to giving illegal immigrants a path to citizenship.
Now, he’s back with a bill that cracks down on, rather than reaches out to, illegal immigrants.
“Virtually every member of the Senate has expressed an interest in passing legislation to tighten security at our borders and restore respect for our immigration laws. This legislation is an opportunity for all of us to let our actions match our words,” Kyl said.
As Kyl works to beef up protection, the number of military boots at the border is shrinking.
Next month, the number of National Guard troops deployed to the border from as far away as Maine and North Dakota will be cut in half, from 6,000 to 3,000 nationally.
In Arizona, the number of troops will fall from 2,400 to 1,200, said National Guard Capt. Kristine Munn.
The pullout started July 1 and is scheduled to be completed by Sept. 1.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.