Sheriff Mark Napier during a press conference in September 2018.

Pima County Sheriff Mark Napier spoke about why he is unambiguous that there is a crisis at the southern border and why a wall could be part of the solution, on a New York Times podcast. 

During the podcast interview, which was released Friday morning, Napier told host Michael Barbaro the main crisis on the border is the number of migrants who die every year while trying to cross the desert into Arizona. In 2017, 128 sets of remains were recovered in Pima, Santa Cruz and Cochise counties, according to the Pima County medical examiner.

Napier said the current system incentivises migrants to take their children and “walk hundreds of miles through environmental conditions that are harsh, through areas of criminality in the hope of getting to America and being able to simply walk across.”

“That’s a human rights issue that we should not incentivize,” he said.

Napier said physical barriers are part of the solution and praised President Donald Trump for leading Tuesday night’s address to the nation by mentioning the humanitarian crisis.

Napier said other critical issues at the border are migrants being victimized at the hands of bandits, and human and drug smuggling. He brought up yesterday’s cross-county drug bust that led to 16 arrests as an example.

“Those drugs are not being cooked in my county,” he said. “We know they're coming up from the border.” 

Cochise County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Carol Capas wasn't able to confirm where those drugs had originated from but did confirm that all people arrested in Thursday's drug bust were U.S. citizens. 

Two years ago on the same podcast, Napier told Barbaro that “a wall is a medieval solution to a modern problem.”

But Friday, Napier says Trump’s current demands for a wall are different than they were back then. Napier pointed out Trump is also asking for technology, human resources and physical barriers. He said a wall would only work in conjunction with those other resources and isn’t practical across the entirety of the southern border because of topography, land-use issues, water issues and other reasons.

The Associated Press reports that Congressional Democrats are urging Trump to accept a bipartisan bill to fund border security, which doesn’t include funding for a wall.

“I’m less interested with how we secure the border than the fact that we do it,” Napier said. “This constant argument over what constitutes a wall...is not moving the ball forward. Let’s commit ourselves in a bipartisan fashion to gaining border security.”

Go to The Daily to hear the entire interview.

Contact reporter Danyelle Khmara at dkhmara@tucson.com or 573-4223. On Twitter: @DanyelleKhmara