Skip to comments.Homeland security chief visits today; Tours border, fort, but isn't meeting with locals.
Posted on 12/03/2003 4:43:00 PM PST by SandRat
COCHISE COUNTY -- Department of Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge will see life along the border today, but he will not be taking the pulse of local people and how they view the fast-flowing traffic of illegal immigrants across the international boundary.
Douglas Mayor Ray Borane said Ridge's visit is another example of a high-ranking bureaucrat from Washington, D.C., not wanting to hear from people who live along the border.
Ridge is in Arizona for a number of reasons, including a review of special operations being used to combat the smuggling of illegal immigrants.
He also will be on Fort Huachuca today to receive an operational briefing and watching unmanned aerial vehicle demonstrations. The Arizona congressional delegation has been attempting to have Ridge set up an unmanned aerial vehicle program for the U.S. Border Patrol. The congressmen want the center for the operation on Fort Huachuca, which is where the Army has its unmanned aerial vehicle training facility.
U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and U.S. Rep. Jim Kolbe, R-Ariz., are accompanying Ridge on his visit.
Two other top federal officials involved in border issues have previously toured the border in a whirlwind fashion, and it appears Ridge is going to do the same thing, Borane said. The other two officials the Douglas mayor was talking about were the U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft and Homeland Security Undersecretary Asa Hutchinson.
"It will be another dog-and-pony show," Borane said.
That Ashcroft, Hutchinson and now Ridge have not been interested in hearing from area residents is indicative that they don't want to listen to the truth about the border issues, he said.
"It's so frustrating," Borane said. "The problem is in our back yard, and we don't have the opportunity to tell him (Ridge)."
Sierra Vista Mayor Tom Hessler said he did not learn about Ridge's visit to the post and the border area until around noon Tuesday.
He, too, said he would have liked to have had an opportunity to talk with Ridge so that the Homeland Security secretary would have a fuller picture of what is happening to U.S. communities close to the border.
Hessler said he believes that eventually top federal officials will come to Cochise County and have something like a town hall to listen to area elected officials and residents to gather information about how local people see the border problems.
Cochise County Sheriff Larry Dever said it has taken years to create an interest in border issues from senior leaders from Washington, D.C.
"It took five years for some of Arizona's congressional delegation to show an interest," Dever said.
The sheriff said the parade of officials has begun, and they are coming to personally see the problems faced by local residents.
"Hopefully, he (Ridge) will see the right things," Dever said, who has not been approached to speak with the Homeland Security secretary today.
While seeing Ridge's visit as a plus, Dever said he has to agree that the top leadership involved with border issues have to eventually meet with area elected officials and residents.
"I think we have succeeded in establishing the interest, now they have to listen to us," Dever said.
It took awhile for some members of the Arizona congressional delegation to tour the border as a group and to listen to residents, the sheriff said.
"I just think they (people like Ridge) need to sit down and listen to the people who are living everyday with the (border) problem," Dever said.
Bisbee City Manager Rob Yandow said he tried to set up a meeting with him when he heard Ridge was going to be in the local area.
"I asked for a few minutes," Yandow said.
However, Ridge's itinerary was full and Yandow could not get time with him.
Yandow said he wanted to tell Ridge the impact illegal immigrants are having on Bisbee so he will have an expanded view of the problems facing the community.
"It would have been nice to have a few minutes with him to tell about the concerns of a small border community, but that's not going to happen," Yandow said.
HERALD/REVIEW senior reporter Bill Hess can be reached at 520-515-4615 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
This is a representative democracy. Your Senator, John McCain, was elected to represent you, and he is traveling with Rom Ridge. Get a life. There are millions of people in Arizona...
Oh, you mean this guy?
When something catastrophic happens, his head will be the first to roll
Take a peek.
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