A coalition of local organizations gathered today at El Tiradito shrine near downtown Tucson to oppose the “border surge” amendment to the Senate immigration bill that will essentially double the number of Border Patrol agents and add fencing along the border before allowing people to adjust to permanent legal status.

Sarah Launius, with No More Deaths, called the amendment a “devastating blow.”

“This type of closed door negotiations is a disrespectful move to all people who live within the borderlands,” she said.

“We are here today to ask all of those involved to not forget border communities,” she said, “we will not be voiceless.”

The amendment was introduced last week by Republican senators Bob Corker of Tennessee and John Hoeven from North Dakota. The Senate is expected to vote on it today.

For Arizona, the amendment would mean adding a range of technology equipment including 50 integrated fixed towers; 73 fixed camera systems; 685 unattended ground sensors and 22 handheld devices such as thermal imaging systems and night vision goggles.

The amendment also requires 700 miles of secure pedestrian fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border and 20,000 new Border Patrol agents.

This ‘surge’ in border security won’t come without significant costs, but those costs will not be borne by taxpayers, but instead by the fees and fines that immigrants and visa applicants pay under the modernized legal immigration system this legislation create,” Sen. John McCain said in a news release last week.

Dan Millis of the Sierra Club Borderlands called it a “dumb proposal,” but said Sierra Club will continue to fight for a path to citizenship for the 11 million “living in the shadows.”

Read more in tomorrow's Star

Senior Editor, News, Arizona Daily Star, Tucson, Az.