By Terri Jo Neff
Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels has taken part in a number of media interviews in recent weeks about the growing influx of illegal border crossers coming in from Mexico, and it is clear who he blames for the uncontrolled public health and public safety situation getting worse by the day.
“The border patrol is no longer securing the border,” Dannels told KFYI’s James T. Harris on Monday. “What they’re doing is taking care of children and adults.”
Dannels told Harris that the White House is using a “very kind choice of words” when discussing the number of people trying to cross the 1,954-mile international border in the last few weeks. Words, the sheriff says, which are “in conflict with what is truly going on at the border.”
And that, the sheriff says, requires calling the situation at the country’s southwest border what it is – a crisis, not “a challenge” as a spokesperson for President Joe Biden recently called it.
According to Dannels, recent reports place the number of people trying to cross the southern border at 2,500 to 4,000 per day, with 400 to 500 of them being children. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) expects those numbers to hold steady for several weeks before it spikes as more migrants from South America make it through Central America and Mexico.
Dannels told Harris that he has seen no logistical support nor mitigation efforts coming out of Washington D.C., which he believes should concern all Americans, not just those in border states.
“When you fail to recognize a problem and you avoid it or ignore it, it only gets worse,” he said. “What happens on the southwest border doesn’t stay here, it migrates throughout the United States into communities throughout.”
Cochise County’s southern boundary shares more than 80 miles of the international border. Dannels has installed hundreds of surveillance cameras focused on the border and other remote areas of the county to supplement those in use by DHS agencies such as Customs & Border Protection and U.S. Border Patrol.
Earlier this month Dannels was interviewed live on Fox & Friends about Biden’s order in January which halted border wall construction, including one section of old fence the sheriff said was recently seeing “five or six groups” coming through every day.
The sheriff noted he and other sheriffs along the border were not briefed in advance about Biden’s wall construction order. There has also been a deafening silence about the border crisis from Senators Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema, as well as national public health officials.
“Nobody is talking about what’s going on at the southwest border when it comes to the health pandemic in this country,” Dannels said during a March 5 interview on Fox & Friends. “And then you look at the public safety aspect of this, it’s upsetting.”
It is the same message Dannels shared a few days earlier in an interview with Fox News’ Your World program and then again March 8 on Fox’s American’s Newsroom show.
“Talking to my federal partners, talking to local law enforcement, talking to our health department – I mean when it comes to public safety, national security, when it comes to the health pandemic, we’re in trouble –we’re in serious trouble and this all started under the word politics,” he said March 8.
“When this administration failed to engage with my governor, my attorney general, our health departments, our emergency services coordinator- along with other border states and beyond- that’s when it started. So we’re trying to pick up the pieces right now.”
AZ Free News has confirmed Dannels is being suggested as a possible Republican candidate in 2022 when Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick’s seat in Congress comes open. Dannels said Monday he has been approached about running for various political offices, but he has not considered such a move as his current term runs through 2024.