Legislators from the border discuss deployment of National Guard in their districts
April 5, 2018
State lawmakers from the border of Arizona and Mexico have varying perspectives on the help and harm that will come from having the National Guard in the area.
Democrat Sen. Andrea Dalessandro oversees Legislative District 2, which runs north of Nogales and includes part of Pima and Santa Cruz counties. Dalessandro believes the border control issue has been blown out of proportion. She says many residents have told her that they already feel safe, and the deployment gives the region a bad reputation, which in turn will hurt businesses.
“I think [sending troops to the border] is ill-conceived, and [President Donald Trump] is just trying to stir up his conservative base,” Dalessandro says. “LD2 is a culturally diverse, historically significant and very safe place. I think this is just a ploy. The figures for border crossings is the lowest it’s been since 1971.”
Arizona’s Legislative District 14, which covers the southeast corner of the state including towns like Bisbee and Wilcox. Republican Rep. Drew John, who has represented LD-14 since 2017, welcomes the National Guard with open arms. He says those crossing the border illegally threaten ranchers who live along the dividing line.
“I agree with what the President’s wanting to do,” John says. “I think that we do need to secure the border. It’s all about the security… The cost of raising cattle there has gotten so expensive also so it’s made it more difficult for them because of that 30 mile distance between the border and border control.”
Dalessandro says sending troops discounts all the hard work border control currently does. She believes the few voices claiming the border is in trouble are louder than the voices who actually live in border towns, which has negatively distorted public perception.
John admits that the issue may have been blown out of proportion, but still believes the border needs to become more secure. He says the point of the National Guard being at the border should be to stop drugs from coming into the country. The drug trafficking has put the ranchers in danger. Dalessandro says it’s something else that’s hurting the people in border towns.
“The population in both Santa Cruz County and Cochise County are down because of the fear-mongering that has gone on,” Dalessandro says. “We’re still trying to recover from SB 1070. Every time someone says ‘secure the borders’ it hurts the realtors, it hurts the small businesses and it hurts economic development because people are misled and think we are living in a war zone.”
Trump announced that 4,000 guardsmen will be deployed, but has not specified how they will be distributed along the border.