Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Sahuarita panel seeks common ground on border problems

Frank Krentz, right, testified at the congressional field hearing
Discussions about border issues often focus on the differences, but on Monday the goal was to find common ground. A group of Southern Arizona residents, city officials, ranchers, business owners and law enforcement officers gathered here for a congressional field hearing, “Life on the Border: Examining Border Security through the Eyes of Local Residents and Law Enforcement,” held by U.S. Rep. Martha McSally of Arizona and New Mexico Rep. Steve Pearce, both Republicans. “I want to make sure as decision makers, policy makers, those that are running for office are trying to come up with ways to address these things now and in the future, that they are hearing from facts, hearing from people on the ground that are being impacted by failed policies every day,” said McSally, who chairs the House subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security. Although the number of people coming illegally through Southern Arizona is down, ranchers in rural areas continue to see traffic coming through their land. Instead of seeing large groups of migrants looking for work, they said, they now encounter smaller groups carrying drugs. “I can remember a time in 1999 I saw two different groups of people crossing the ranch that numbered larger than 100,” Frank Krentz said. “We used to approach these people as Christians to make sure there were no injuries and tell them that Border Patrol would be here shortly to help them.” But that all changed after his father, Robert Krentz, was shot and killed nearly six years ago when he was out on his ranch and saw someone walking across a pasture. “Now we don’t go near these people. Not knowing what the situation holds, we don’t put ourselves in a position that would get us into trouble.” The slaying remains unsolved. Just last week, said Daniel Bell, president of the ZZ Cattle Corp., there was a fire started by people crossing illegally who were later caught by the Border Patrol. “These were all breaking points that caused ranchers on the border to demand more boots on the ground,” he said...more

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