Gabriela Saucedo Mercer

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What Southern Arizona-specific issues will you champion in Congress?    

The Star invited Southern Arizona's congressional candidates to answer that question.

This is the second of three Sundays of guest commentaries by the congressional candidates. Find previous columns at

Public safety, economic growth and environmental protection are issues I will champion for Southern Arizona.

Congressman Raúl Grijalva's constituents are being badly served in all three areas.

His ongoing refusal to take any meaningful steps to secure our border is a matter of national security.

Transnational criminals crisscross the border almost at will to engage in drug and human smuggling. Extortion and rape are the fates of many Mexican nationals who entrust themselves to these criminals.

Since 9/11, illegal aliens from terrorism-sponsoring countries have been apprehended in the Tucson Sector. It wouldn't be difficult to smuggle chemical or biological weapons into the U.S.

The scope of this problem is mostly unknown to the public and the media because the feds, including Grijalva, provide inadequate and misleading information.

What we do know is that as few as 5 percent of the crossers are apprehended. Grijalva is not addressing the fact that we have transnational criminals coming into the United States to distribute their "products" and their involvement in human smuggling.

The fight to control smuggling corridors produces violence and death. In the United States, our citizens, including Border Patrol agents, have been killed. In Mexico, the death toll is in the tens of thousands. Vehicles filled with dismembered bodies have been found just south of the border. A perpetual concern is more chaos spilling into Arizona. Grijalva's inaction is inexcusable.

He claims to be an environmental advocate. What few of his supporters know is that his policies have produced ecological devastation along the border.

The "wilderness" areas he's worked to establish have instead become multi-mile trash piles and safe havens for other lawless activity.

Criminals operate with relative impunity within these areas as our law-enforcement personnel are severely hampered by restrictions triggered by the wilderness designations pushed by Grijalva.

But these are not insurmountable problems. In the San Diego sector, the construction of a double-layer fence (advocated by California members of both parties) has dramatically reduced crime on both sides of the border.

While ignoring environmental destruction, Grijalva stands in the way of thousands of jobs, supposedly in the name of the environment.

He obstructs and vilifies the Rosemont Copper mine despite federal guidelines that ensure proper site restoration after the mine closes. This mine would produce billions in revenue and a generation or more of jobs for Southern Arizona.

And for any elected official to chase jobs away with a boycott should be unthinkable - but not for Grijalva. The citizens in CD3 deserve better. I pledge to provide it.

Saucedo Mercer is the Republican candidate in District 3, which includes the south and west sides of Tucson plus much of Southwestern Arizona.