TED SIMONS: PRESIDENT TRUMP CONTINUES TO PUSH FOR PROPOSED EXPANSION OF THE WALL BETWEEN MEXICO AND THE UNITED STATES. ARIZONA HORIZON SAT DOWN WITH DIFFERING VIEWERS AND DOUGLAS NICOLES OF YUMA DISCUSS HOW THE BORDER WALL WILL AFFECT THE CITY.
VANESSA RUIZ: I WILL START WITH YOU MAYOR NICKELS TELL US WHY YOU ARE IN FAVOR OF A BORDER WALL.
MAYOR NICKELS: YUMA HAS A FENCE SITUATION IN 2005 BEFORE THE WALL WAS 19 CONSTRUCTED WE HAD 140 ALMOST 150,000 PEOPLE THAT WERE INTER-JECTED AND 280,000 CAME THROUGH A COMMUNITY WITH ONLY 90,000 PEOPLE IT'S MULTIPLE TIMES PEOPLE WHO LIVE THERE VERSUS WHO TRAVEL THROUGH THE AREA. THEREFORE, WHAT THAT DID TO OUR COMMUNITY WAS IT TOOK A LOT OF RESOURCES. OUR POLICE FORCE, PUBLIC SAFETY, THOSE KIND OF ISSUES WERE REALLY FOCUSED UPON SUPPORTING THE BORDER PATROL AND THE ACTIVITY OF THAT WAS CAUSED BY PEOPLE COMING THROUGH THE AREA THAT KIND OF VOLUME. 2006 THE WALL WAS BUILT, THE FENCE WAS BUILT ALONG THE BORDER, THE NATIONAL GUARD ACTUALLY CONSTRUCTED THAT AND IT CHANGED OUR COMMUNITY. WE WENT FROM THE 140,000 PLUS TO 8,000 PLUS THAT HAD BEEN INTERDICTED. AND 2007 PLUS COMING THROUGH THE COMMUNITY TO A MERE 16,000 THAT CAME THROUGH AND KNEW WE COULD TRACK THAT CAME THROUGH. IT FREED UP THE POLICE FORCE AND PUBLIC SAFETY TO DO THE THINGS FOR THE CITY AND THE CITIZENS OF THE CITY. DID NOT HAVE TO SPEND SO MUCH TIME BACKING UP THE ACTIVITIES THAT WERE HAPPENING ALONG THE BORDER SO IT WAS A REAL OPPORTUNITY TO IN A WAY FREE UP CITY RESOURCES AND HELP THE WAY OUR CITY OPERATES.
VANESSA RUIZ: FROM YOUR PERSPECTIVE MAYOR NICKELS IT PRIMARILY COMES DOWN TO A PUBLIC SAFETY ISSUE CORRECT?
MAYOR NICKELS: IT HAS A LOT TO DO WITH PUBLIC SAFETY, WE HAD DRAMATIC DROPS IN ALL OF OUR NUMBERS, MURDERS AND MANSLAUGHTER DROPPED 50%, VEHICLE THEFT ABOUT 65%. WE HAD LARCENY AND THEFT AND THOSE KIND OF THINGS DROPPED 20 TO 25% DURING THAT TIME PERIOD. THAT REALLY HAD TO DO WITH THE PEOPLE THAT WERE NOT NECESSARILY LOOKING TO COME TO THE COUNTRY TO WORK; IT WAS THOSE WHO WERE BRINGING THEM THROUGH THE COUNTRY. THEY GET DESPERATE AND GET IN SITUATIONS WHERE THEY DON'T INTEND TO BE AND THEY END UP HAVING TO YOU KNOW MAYBE TAKE ANOTHER CAR IN ORDER TO CONTINUE THE JOURNEY, OR THEY ABANDON PEOPLE AND LEAVE THEM IN THE DESERT TO DIE AND OR THEY ABUSE THEM OR RAPE THEM. IT IS NOT A FAIRY TALE CROSSING, THAT SOMETIMES WE THINK ABOUT. IT IS A VERY DIFFICULT CROSSING FOR PEOPLE. AS THEY COME THROUGH NOT THROUGH THE PORT SYSTEM. AND THE HUMANITARIAN CRISIS IS NOT JUST ABOUT THE PEOPLE OF YUMA IT'S ADORNETTO HUMANITY OVER ALL IN THE WORLD BECAUSE WE ARE NOT TALKING ADORNETTO JUST PEOPLE FROM MEXICO. PEOPLE COME FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD AND COME THROUGH OUR SOUTHERN BORDER.
VANESSA RUIZ: NOW, MAYOR, I KNOW YOU HAVE A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE THAN WHAT WE JUST HEARD. YOU SAID YOU WOULD RATHER USE THE FUNDS FOR THE BORDER WALL 20:47:08 SUCH AS INFRA INFRASTRUCTURE WITH EDUCATION AND PROGRAMS FOR CHILDREN TALK TO US ABOUT YOUR POINT OF VIEW.
MAYOR ROBERT URIBE: YOU KNOW IT IS VERY INTERESTING TO HERE MAYOR NICKELS SHARE SOME OF THOSE CONCERNS BECAUSE I HAVING PROTECTING THE BORDER IS ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS WE OUGHT TO DO. MAYOR NICKELS AND MYSELF ARE AT THE FOR FRONT OF NATIONAL SECURITY. IN OUR SITUATION, WE ARE ONE OF THE SAFEST BORDER COMMUNITIES IN ARIZONA SO WHEN THERE IS ALREADY A FENCE THAT EXISTS THERE IN DOUGLAS ARIZONA. WE ARE IN DIRE NEED OF IMPROVING OUR INFRASTRUCTURE. WE HAVE ABOUT IN TRADE WE HAVE ABOUT 4 BILLION THAT CROSSES THROUGH THIS, THE 17,000 POPULATION, RIGHT, AND ANY -- WE HAVE NOT HAD ANY MAJOR INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENT IN OVER 30 YEAR. SO WE ARE TALKING ADORNETTO NATIONAL SECURITY, WE ARE TALKING ABOUT ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, WE ARE TALKING ADORNETTO EDUCATION AND IT JUST -- IT'S NOT FAIR FOR US ON THE BORDER THAT WE -- WE ARE ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT COMMUNITIES YOU KNOW IF YOU SHUT DOWN OUR BORDERS AND LEGAL TRADE STOPS WE ARE TALKING ABOUT LOTS OF MONEY THAT IS GOING TO BE IN JEOPARDY. SO I WOULD RATHER USE THOSE RESOURCES IN FUNDING THE INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECT WE HAVE AT PORT OF ENTRY, WE HAVE NOT HAD A SIGNIFICANT UPGRADE IN OVER 30 YEARS, IRWOULD USE SOME OF THE RESOURCES FOR EDUCATION. I WOULD USE -- TRY TO HIRE MORE AGENTS ON THE BORDER. WE HAVE A DEFICIT RIGHT NOW OF CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION AGENTS, CDP OFFICERS. WHICH SOMETIMES DELAY THE LINES OF LEGAL CROSSING, TRADE, COMMERCE AND SO FORTH. THEREFORE, I WOULD USE THOSE RESOURCES AND EVERY BORDER IS DIFFERENT. SO MAYOR NICKELS HAS A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE AND DEALING WITH DIFFERENT ISSUES AND PEOPLE ON CAPITOL HILL AND WASHINGTON TO FLY HERE AND SEE WHAT GOES ON AT THE BORDER.
VANESSA RUIZ: LET ME ASK YOU THIS IS THERE POTENTIAL FOR A COMPROMISE THE MAYOR JUST SAID YOUR CITIES ARE VERY DIFFERENT AND DEAL WITH DIFFERENT ISSUES BUT WHAT WOULD BE THE POTENTIAL FOR A COMPROMISE DOWN THE ROAD IN TERMS OF POTENTIALLY BUILDING A BORDER WALL OR NOT? HOW DO WE MAINTAIN OUR CITY IS SAFER BUT AT THE SAME TIME MAINTAIN THAT OPENNESS THAT HAS MARKED BORDER CITIES FOR HUNDREDS OF YEARS?
MAYOR NICKELS: IF YOU DO NOT MIND ME SO FIRST I DO NOT DISAGREE WITH MARY ON A LOT OF THE POINTS HE JUST SAID. TO YOUR QUESTION IT'S REALLY ABOUT A SYSTEMATIC APPROACH. IT IS NOT ONE THING. THE WALL IN AND OF ITSELF DOESN'T DO ANY GOOD IF THERE IS NOT AN INCREASE IN AGENTS, IF THERE IS NOT A MORE EFFECTIVE PORT SYSTEM, IF IMMIGRATION LAWS ARE NOT UPDATED AND CHANGED. IT IS ONE PIECE OF A SYSTEM SO WHEN YOU LOOK AT THAT WHAT YOU NEED TO UNDERSTAND IS WHAT IS THE SYSTEM AND IN SOME PLACES MAYBE A WALL DOES NOT WORK. IF YOU HAVE RIVER LIKE IN TEXAS WITH THE RIVER THAT MIGHT NOT BE THE PLACE TO PUT A WALL. HOWEVER, WHETHER THE WALL IS A PHYSICAL BARRIER OR ELECTRONIC BARRIER OR SENSING BARRIER AT SOME POINT BEING ABLE TO CONTROL AND UNDERSTAND WHO IS COMING THROUGH, MAINTAINING THE SAFETY OF OUR COMMUNITIES. WE HAVE JUST LIKE MAYOR HERE WE HAVE AGRICULTURAL HOMESTEADS THAT ARE VERY, VERY REMOTE, THAT END UP WITH ISSUES CONSTANTLY, THAT'S A SAFETY CONCERN NOW. THEY MAY NOT BE CITY RESIDENTS. HOWEVER, IT IS A CONCERN FOR THE SAFETY OF THOSE PEOPLE AS WELL AS THOSE THAT PASS THROUGH. THAT MIGHT RUN ACROSS SOMETHING THAT MAYBE A SITUATION WHERE THEY ARE NOT PREPARED FOR THAT AS THEY COME ACROSS SO IS THERE A COMPROMISE I SAY THERE IS NOT ONE SIZE FITS ALL. IT HAS TO BE LOOKED AT AS WE GO THROUGH THE BORDER TO UNDERSTAND WHAT ARE THE NEEDS AND WHAT IS GOING TO BE EFFECTIVE.
MAYOR ROBERT URIBE: YOU KNOW, GREAT POINT MAYOR NICKELS SO YOU KNOW WE RECENTLY HAD THE DEPLOYMENT OF THE NATIONAL GUARDS. SOMETHING THAT I SAY MR. PRESIDENT IF WE CAN FUND THE NATIONAL GUARD WE CAN FUND THE PORT OF ENTRY PROJECT AND THAT IS MY ARGUMENT, YOU KNOW WE HAVE TO FOCUS ON WHAT'S REALLY NEEDED ON OUR PORTS. OUR EDUCATION, WE HAD TO INVEST IN OUR EDUCATION, WE HAVE TO INVEST IN OUR INFRASTRUCTURE SO I WROTE AN OPEN LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT EXACTLY IDENTIFYING THAT UNDOCUMENTED CROSSING IN ARIZONA IS AT AN ALL TIME LOW SINCE 1971. I MENTIONED TO THE PRESIDENT THAT I AGREE WITH HIM AND IT IS IMPORTANT TO PROTECT THE BORDER. COME VISIT US, SEE FOR YOURSELF WHAT WE REALLY NEED. IN ADDITION, YOU KNOW THERE ARE 17,000 PEOPLE IN MY COMMUNITY THAT ARE WARNING A ROBUST ECONOMIC STIMULATION THERE. THEY ARE EAGER AND WANT TO RAISE THEIR FAMILY THERE AND WHEN WE START WITH THIS RHETORIC OF BUILD A WALL. RELATIONSHIP WITH MEXICO, I MEAN, THOSE ARE NOT APPLICABLE TO US BECAUSE WE ARE A BI- NATIONAL COMMUNITY. WE HAVE ALWAYS BEEN SO WHY TODAY THERE IS THIS LIKE NEGATIVE YOU KNOW CLOUD OVER US AND THAT SETS US BACK. AS WE TRY TO MOVE FORWARD AND I AM HAPPY TO HAVE DISCUSSIONS WITH MAYOR NICKELS. I THINK THAT IS HOW IT STARTS BECAUSE WE BOTH CARE ADORNETTO OUR COUNTRY AND BOTH WANT TO PROTECT OUR COUNTRY. THERE IS THIS COMPROMISE I AM GOING TO LISTEN TO HIM. I THINK IT IS IMPORTANT. WE MAY NOT AGREE ON EVERYTHING BUT I THINK THAT WHAT WE CAN AGREE IS THAT WE LOVE OUR COUNTRY AND WE WANT TO SEE IT PROSPER.
VANESSA RUIZ: GENTLEMEN, UNFORTUNATELY WE ARE OUT OF TIME FOR THIS DISCUSSION. I AM 100% SURE. WE CAN CONTINUE THIS. IT IS AN IMPORTANT CONVERSATION TO BE HAD. THANK YOU BOTH FOR JOINING US HERE TODAY. THANK YOU. AND GOOD LUCK.
MAYOR ROBERT URIBE: THANK YOU.
Mayors of Yuma and Douglas present their opposing views on the building of a border wall, how it would impact their communities and how a compromise could be reached.
President Donald Trump has remained adamant on his campaign promise of building a wall between the United States and Mexico. Since there has been no progress on the plan thus far, he has sent National Guard troops to protect the border until something can be agreed upon.
Mayor of Yuma Douglas Nicholls is in agreement with the president because he believes it will protect his community’s public safety. Yuma has a fence along the border that’s been in place since 2006. Nicholls says before the fence was up there were almost 150,000 people who were stopped crossing the border not through ports. There were also 280,000 people who would pass through the community.
“In 2006, the border wall was built and it changed our community,” Nicholls says. “Those interjected dropped to 8,000 and those coming through our community dropped to 16,000. It freed up our police force and our public safety to go back and do those things that were meant for the city.”
For Nicholls, the purpose of building a wall would rest heavily on protecting public safety. He says his town’s fence caused a dramatic drop in crime numbers. Murders and manslaughter fell by 50 percent, vehicle theft decreased by 65 percent and theft dropped 25 percent, according to Nicholls.
Mayor of Douglas Robert Uribe has a different point of view. He says if you ask anyone in his community, they will agree that if money can be spent, it should be spent on infrastructure and education rather than a wall. Douglas hasn’t seen any major infrastructure funding in over 30 years, he says.
“I do agree that protecting those within the border is one of the most important things that we ought to do,” Uribe says. “Mayor Nicholls and myself are at the forefront of national security. In our situation, we’re one of the safest border communities in the state of Arizona.”
If people are willing to find a compromise, Uribe says it begins with a diplomatic discussion between those with opposing views like himself and Nicholls.