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Border Troops Won’t Do Much, Say Residents

May 27, 2010
William La Jeunesse
Fox News
While Washington wrings its hands over immigration, Arizona border residents say political dithering is making things worse.

"Every time our president talks to the Mexican president, or every time the word amnesty comes over the Mexican news, there is a flood of people," said one resident who wanted to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation.

She and her neighbors say unarmed National Guard won't deter drug smugglers or anyone else.

"There's guys out here with no guns and they're our troops. The Mexicans think we're nuts," says the resident.

But it is not just Mexicans. In 2009 Customs and Border Protection arrested 52,000 illegal entrants from countries other than Mexico, known as "OTM's," including from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen.

U.S. representative Rob Bishop (R-UT) says the crossings are a concern.

"It's the illegal drug human smuggling and yes, the potential for terrorism."

In spite of the Border Patrol's best efforts, thousands of people are getting through, on federal land like Indian reservations and national parks that cover almost half of the Arizona-Mexico border.  In many places, agents can't pursue criminals in their vehicles for fear of damaging the environment.

Rancher Fred Eddington says he is frustrated.

"Border Patrol needs to go where they can go to do their job. And nobody else plays by the rules, so why should they?"

The recently retired head of the Tucson Border Patrol puts it plainly: "The border is porous. We don't have the resources that we need. Somebody who wants to do us harm can get into the United States."