The state should crack down on smugglers, but it should not pay to build a border fence, the two candidates for state Senate in District 9 agree.

From there, Steve Farley and Tyler Mott have very different opinions on border and immigration policy, which they shared in a debate Thursday at Pima Community College's Downtown Campus.

In response to a question on border security, Mott quoted Ronald Reagan: "A nation without borders is not a nation."

He then shifted gears to poet Robert Frost, noting "good fences make good neighbors."

And finally cited Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano as saying the border is more secure than it's ever been.

"She could not be more wrong," Mott said. He teared up talking about the shooting death of Border Patrol agent Nick Ivie.

He said the state needs to stop illegal immigration.

Mott said it's the federal government's job to build border fences and it would cost too much for the state.

Farley recalled visiting border-area ranchers, who live in fear of smugglers, he said.

He said the state should crack down on smuggling.

"We have to secure borders and keep people secure down there."

He criticized the state Legislature for taking $5 million away from the Pima County sheriff and giving it to the Pinal County sheriff "because they like him better, politically."

"It was a blatant power grab and financial grab that leaves the county with the largest border with Mexico" without that money, he said.

Farley said the state shouldn't take on the expense of building a fence.

"Fences don't work," he said. "If you have a 12-foot fence, they'll make a 13-foot ladder." Instead, he said, the state should better fund border-area law enforcement agencies and press Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform.

Mott is against comprehensive immigration reform.

On SB 1070, Arizona's tough new immigration law, Farley said he voted against it as a state representative because it doesn't do anything for border security.

"All it does is put up a big sign to the legal Mexican residents who want to come here and shop every day that they're not wanted - and we can't afford that," he said.

Mott would have voted for SB 1070.

He said SB 1070 was brought to the Legislature "because the federal government wasn't doing its job, so the state had to act in some way."

"Was it a perfect bill? No," he said. "But was it some kind of an answer to help figure this problem out? Yes."

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Contact reporter Becky Pallack at or 573-4346. On Twitter @BeckyPallack.