Yuma Mayor on Border Wall

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Yuma mayor Douglas Nicholls will talk about what he thinks about President Trumps promise to build a wall along the border. Mayor Nicholls has the perspective of being a mayor of a border city that already has a wall at the border.


TED SIMONS: A 20-FOOT FENCE SEPARATING YUMA FROM MEXICO THAT'S MONITORED BY CAMERAS, AGENTS AND SENSORS IS SAID TO BE ONE OF THE MOST SECURE AREAS OF THE BORDER. HERE TO TELL US MORE ABOUT THE BARRIER AND GIVE US "HIS" THOUGHTS ABOUT THE PRESIDENT'S PLANS FOR A WALL ALONG THE "ENTIRE" SOUTHERN BORDER, IS THE MAYOR OF YUMA, DOUGLAS NICHOLLS.

TED SIMONS: WELCOME TO "ARIZONA HORIZON." GOOD TO HAVE YOU.

NICHOLLS: GOOD TO BE HERE.

TED SIMONS: YOUR WALL IN YUMA, IT'S NOT JUST ONE WALL, IS IT?

NICHOLLS: SOME PLACES ITS TWO WALLS, SOME PLACES A SINGLE WALL AND OTHER PLACES THE ELECTRONIC WALL WE HAVE BEEN HEARING ABOUT. IN 2006 WE DIDN'T HAVE A WALL. WE WERE -- SEEING PEOPLE COME ACROSS THE BORDER IN RATIOS OF 50-1 OR GREATER TO OUR AGENTS THAT WERE PATROLLING THE BORDER. YOU CAN IMAGINE AS AN AGENT TRYING TO CORRAL 50 PEOPLE, IT'S NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. IT'S RUN OF THE LUCK WHEN YOU TRY TO COME ACROSS THE BORDER.

TED SIMONS: IN SOME PLACES, IT'S A TRIPLE FENCE, NINE MILES LONG, SOMETHING ALONG THOSE LINES?

NICHOLLS: THAT I'M NOT FAMILIAR WITH.

TED SIMONS: DO PEOPLE STILL TRY TO CROSS?

NICHOLLS: THEY DO. THEY DO. BEFORE THE WALL, BEFORE THE FENCE, HOWEVER YOU WANT TO REFER TO IT, WE HAD 138,000 PEOPLE A YEAR GET APPREHENDED. NOW WERE ABOUT 8,000 OR 9,000 A YEAR. IT'S A SOME 90% REDUCTION. THEY STILL WILL. THE WALL IS NOT THE END ALL BE ALL SOLUTION. IT'S PART OF A GREATER SOLUTION.

TED SIMONS: WHAT ABOUT THE SAND DUNES. IS THERE A WALL THERE?

NICHOLLS: THERE IS. IT'S CALLED A FLOATING WALL. IT'S SET UP SO AS THE SANDS SHIFT, IT'S A VISIBLE BARRIER AS YOU LOOK SOUTH, AS YOU'RE HEADED TO SAN DIEGO, YOU CAN SEE THE WALL CLEAR AS DAY. IT'S WITHIN A MILE FROM THE FREEWAY.

TED SIMONS: WHAT ABOUT THE COLORADO RIVER, WHAT IS THE BARRIER THERE?

NICHOLLS: THE RIVER.

TED SIMONS:PEOPLE STILL TRY TO CROSS?

NICHOLLS: TRUE, TRUE BUT THE RIVER GIVES A GOOD DELINEATION FOR THE AGENTS THAT WATCH THAT AREA. YOU HAVE TO CROSS THE AREA THAT HAS A BARRIER TO IT.

TED SIMONS: HOW MUCH DOES THE FENCING COST? IS IT SOMETHING YUMA PAID FOR? WAS IT SOMETHING THE STATE PAID FOR? FEDERAL DOLLARS?

NICHOLLS: IT WAS FEDERAL DOLLARS UNDER PRESIDENT BUSH. IT'S 126-MILES LONG. IT STARTS IN YUMA AND IT RUNS TO SAN DIEGO.

TED SIMONS: BUT THE YUMA SECTOR IS SOMETHING LIKE 9 MILES LONG, SOMETHING LIKE THAT.
NICHOLLS: YEAH I THINK ITS AROUD THAT LENGTH. IT DRAMATICALLY CHANGED THE WAY THE BORDER WORKED.
TED SIMONS: DO WE HAVE A PRICE TAG ON IT AT ALL?

NICHOLLS: I DON'T KNOW THE PRICE TAG. IT'S A FEDERAL PROJECT. THE NATIONAL GUARD WAS INVOLVED IN BUILDING THE WALL. WE WERE UNDER ASSAULT AS THEY CONSTRUCTED WALL WITH ROCKS AND OCCASIONAL GUNFIRE COMING FROM THE SOUTH.

TED SIMONS: WITH THAT IN MIND, WHAT DO YUMA RESIDENTS THINK OF THIS WALL?

NICHOLLS: WE DON'T THINK MUCH ABOUT IT. IT'S THERE. IT'S PART OF THE COMMUNITY. CULTURALLY WE ARE CONNECTED WITH OUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS IN MEXICO. COMMERCE HAPPENS BOTH WAYS EVERYDAY. SOCIAL CONNECTIONS STRADDLE THE WALL. THE WALL IS ABOUT ILLEGAL ACTIVITY. IF YOU'RE TRYING TO DO SOMETHING ILLEGAL, THE WALL IS AN ISSUE. IF YOU'RE DOING SOMETHING LEGAL, IT'S ABOUT THE PORT OPERATIONS. WE HAVE BEEN WORKING A LOT WITH MEXCIO AND THE MAYOR IN COLORADO A LOT ABOUT EXACTLY THAT.

TED SIMONS: SO WITH THAT IN MIND, WHAT DO YUMA RESIDENTS, WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE PRESIDENT'S PLAN TO PUT A WALL, A FENCE, A BARRIER OF SOME KIND ALONG THE SOUTHERN BORDER?

NICHOLLS: YOU CAN TELL BY THE NUMBERS I STARTED WITH, 138,000 TO 9,000, IT CHANGES THE FOCUS OF YOUR LAW ENFORCEMENT FROM FOCUSING ON THE 138,000 COMING INTO YOUR COMMUNITY TO BEING REGULAR POLICE AND SHERIFFS AND TAKE CARE OF THE CITIZENRY AS WE EXPECT THEM TOO.

TED SIMONS: LET ME THROW OPPOSITION IDEAS AT YOU. A FENCE IS NOT INPENETRABLE, IT JUST BUYS AGENTS MORE TIME.

NICHOLLS: IT'S A TRUE STATEMENT, ITS NOT INPENETRABLE. THERE ARE TUNNELS, ULTRALIGHTS, THERE ARE A LOT OF DIFFERENT WAYS TO GET AROUND THE WALL, BUT IT CUT OFF THE MOST CONVENIENT CROSSING.

TED SIMONS: THE EASIEST WAY TO CROSS. THE LOWEST COMMON DENOMINATOR.

NICHOLLS: YOU CAN'T LOAD UP THE CAR AND HEAD ACROSS THE DESERT.

TED SIMONS: THE IDEA THAT MORE AGENTS AND BETTER TECHNOLOGY WOULD BE A BETTER IDEA?

NICHOLLS: AGAIN, BECAUSE THE WALL IS NOT THE SINGULAR ANSWER, THEY ARE PART OF THE IDEA AND PART OF THE ANSWER. IN FACT, IN THIS WHOLE TIME FRAME WE HAD THREE DIFFERENT INITIATIVES PUT FORWARD, ONE WAS TRIPLE THE NUMBER OF AGENTS ALONG THE BORDER.

TED SIMONS: LEGAL IMMIGRATION LAWS, JUST IMMIGRATION LAWS IN GENERAL, LABOR LAWS AS WELL, A LOT OF FOLKS SAY YOU FIX THAT, YOU DON'T NEED A WALL. DO THEY HAVE A POINT?

NICHOLLS: I DON'T BELIEVE SO. I THINK WHAT'S DRIVING THE IMMIGRATION IS THE DISPARITY IN INCOME BETWEEN THE AVERAGE PERSON IN MEXICO AND THE AVERAGE PERSON IN THE UNITED STATES. WHEN THE WORK AND HIGHER PAYING JOBS ARE IN THE UNITED STATES, THE WORKERS WILL COME. OUR INDUSTRY IN YUMA, PARTICULARLY OUR AGRICULTURE INDUSTRY IS $3 BILLION. 25,000 OF THE 40,000 PEOPLE THAT WORK IN THE AGRICULTURE INDUSTRY EVERYDAY COME THROUGH THE PORT LEGALLY AND AT NIGHT TURN AROUND AND GO BACK HOME. THEY LIVE IN MEXICO AND WORK IN THE UNITED STATES.

TED SIMONS: CAN THAT PROCESS BE STREAMLINED, BE IMPROVED, GET A BETTER FLOW OF WORKERS THAT DON'T WANT TO STAY HERE BUT ARE AFRAID TO GO BACK?

NICHOLLS: DEFINITELY. THE PROCESS IS PRETTY CUMBERSOME AT THIS POINT. IT TAKES A LOT OF WORK AND THERE IS A LOT OF BUREAUCRACY. IF WE COULD STREAMLINE THAT, IT WOULD BE BETTER NOT JUST INDUSTRY, FOR THE WORKERS. THEY HAVE A BETTER QUALITY OF LIFE. THEY WOULD BE ABLE TO STAY HOME LONGER THROUGH THE DAY, BE WITH THEIR KIDS LONGER, NOT BEING IN DIFFERENT LINES IN THE CITY TO GET DIFFERENT PERMITS.

TED SIMONS: LAST POINT BROUGHT UP BY THOSE AGAINST THE WALL, IF YOU JUST ENFORCE THE LAWS, CUT OFF THE MAGNET THAT ATTRACTS THE PEOPLE, THAT'S MORE IMPORTANT THAN BUILDING A WALL ALONG A BORDER. DO THEY HAVE A POINT?

NICHOLLS: IT'S PART OF THE SOLUTION, BUT NOT THE FULL SOLUTION WHEN YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT ENFORCEMENT.

TED SIMONS: SO AS FAR AS YOU ARE CONCERNED AND THE RESIDENTS OF YUMA ARE CONCERNED, THE FENCE IS THERE AND YOU DON'T THINK ABOUT IT MUCH?

NICHOLLS: NO. WE TRAVEL TO MEXICO FREQUENTLY. I HAVE A GREAT RELATIONSHIP WITH THE MAYOR RENA. WE HAVE AN APPOINTMENT TOMORROW NIGHT TO TALK ABOUT ISSUES. IT'S ALL NORMAL COURSE OF BUSINESS.

TED SIMONS: WILL YOU TALK ABOUT A WALL?

NICHOLLS: WE PROBABLY WILL BECAUSE EVERYONE ELSE IS.

TED SIMONS: WELL IT'S GOOD TO HAVE YOU HERE. THANKS FOR JOINING US.

Yuma mayor: Douglas Nicholls

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