US CONGRESS, DISTRICT 2

Barber notes border gains; McSally says there's a 'war'

Candidates also differ on Obama decree to help young migrants
2012-10-14T00:00:00Z 2014-05-27T14:19:30Z Barber notes border gains; McSally says there's a 'war'Brady McCombs Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
October 14, 2012 12:00 am  • 

Democrat Ron Barber and Republican Martha McSally agree the fatal shooting of Border Patrol agent Nick Ivie underscores the need to bolster border security, but disagree on how to deal with the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants already in the U.S.

Here's a closer look at where the two candidates for Congressional District 2 stand on illegal immigration and border security.

Illegal immigration

Barber supports the DREAM Act concept used in President Obama's recent decree giving some younger illegal immigrants brought here as children reprieves from deportation. It makes sense to allow these law-abiding illegal immigrants the chance to go to college or the military and set them on the road to legal status, he said.

"We need to bring them out of the shadows," he said, emphasizing he doesn't support amnesty.

Ultimately, he said Congress needs to pass immigration reform that includes many of the same elements of the bill introduced in 2007 by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass. The concept would give illegal immigrants who pass criminal background checks an avenue to legal status after paying back taxes, fines and learning English.

McSally does not support the DREAM Act or the president's executive order. She understands the humanitarian considerations for illegal immigrants brought as children, but said rule of law must be upheld until Congress enacts comprehensive immigration reform.

"I do not agree with the president going around Congress in what appears to be for political motives during an election year," said McSally, a retired Air Force colonel.

Congress needs to pass comprehensive immigration reform for the broken, cumbersome system.

"We are a nation of immigrants," she said. "We are a nation of welcoming people that are going to contribute, work hard and be part of the American exceptionalism."

Border Security

Barber said the federal government has made progress, but has plenty of work remaining. He wants more of the tools already being used - Border Patrol agents, mobile surveillance systems, drones, helicopters, forward operating bases and horse patrols. Research on new technologies, such as fiber optics to detect people coming across the border, should continue.

Communication between federal agencies needs to improve, and the U.S. must continue to give Mexico support in fighting the drug war. There also needs to be more investigations of employers hiring illegal immigrants.

"We just need to keep ahead of the cartels," said Barber, who is completing the term of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. "They are very smart. They have a lot of money, so we need to make sure we don't let them outdistance us."

McSally said there is a "war going on" at the border that is a public safety and national security threat.

"These are not just people coming across looking for work," she said. "This is trans-national criminal organizations that are trafficking drugs and slaves and weapons and money in the other direction."

The federal government must first show the will to secure the border. Next, it must implement an intelligence-driven strategy, like the military uses to identify and put resources where the smuggling is occurring.

Barriers and fences should be used in concert with agents, sensors and airborne technology, she said. She supports moving agents and technology closer to the border, and scrapping the agency's current defense-in-depth strategy.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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