By Terri Jo Neff |
Corporate executive Jim Lamon’s campaign for U.S. Senate received endorsements last week from the National Border Patrol Council and the Arizona Police Association, shocking many in the Republican Party who assumed Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich was a shoo-in for the groups’ backing.
Lamon, the founder of Fortune 550 utility company DEPCOM Power, is among four prime candidates seeking the Republican nomination on Aug. 2, 2022 –and with it the chance to unseat Sen. Mark Kelly. The others are Brnovich, recently retired Arizona Adjutant General Michael “Mick” McGuire, and political newcomer Blake Masters, who serves as president of the Thiel Foundation.
There were also endorsements announced last week in the Arizona gubernatorial race, where businessman Steven Gaynor, former state lawmaker Matt Salmon, Board of Regents member Karrin Taylor Robson, and current State Treasurer Kimberly Yee are hoping Republican voters will start to look past the local celebrity status of television news personality Kari Lake, the current front runner.
The endorsements came in the form of former governors Jan Brewer and Fife Symington joining Taylor Robson as co-chairs of her campaign. Their support comes after Taylor Robson and Yee spent the summer taking turns announcing various municipal and county endorsements.
Meanwhile, Rep. Aaron Lieberman (LD28) and former Nogales Mayor Marco Lopez Jr. are hoping to show the name recognition enjoyed by current Secretary of State Katie Hobbs does not mean she is the best candidate to represent the Democratic Party in the race for governor.
The multi-candidate race to the Republican nomination for Arizona Secretary of State saw its biggest news to date when former President Donald Trump endorsed Rep. Mark Finchem (LD11) last week. Finchem’s most noted primary opponents are Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita (LD23) and Rep. Shawnna Bolick (LD20).
Trump’s endorsement of Finchem overshadowed the fact Rep. Reginald Bolding (LD27) snagged the endorsements last week of two prominent Democratic state lawmakers in his race against former Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes for that party’s nomination for Secretary of State.
Those endorsements, from Senate Minority Leader Rebecca Rios and Senate Minority Whip Martin Quezada, came as Senate President Karen Fann announced the audit report is expected to be released shortly into how well Maricopa County -especially Fontes’ office- complied with election laws and state election rules during the 2020 General Election.
The Republican primary for State Treasurer got less bloated this month when Rep. Regina Cobb (LD5) bowed out just weeks after announcing her candidacy. Cobb will be taking an executive position with the Arizona Dental Association, leaving Sen. David Livingston (LD22) and Rep. Jeff Weninger (LD17) to duke it out.
On the Democrat side, Sen. Martin Quezada (LD29) is expected to easily win his party’s nomination in the primary.
There have not been any major changes in the race for Arizona Attorney General, where former Supreme Court Justice Andrew Gould is in a close race for the Republican nomination against former federal prosecutor Lacy Cooper and UA College of Law alumna Tiffany Shedd in the primary.
And the fight for the Democratic Party nomination remains between Rep. Diego Rodriguez (LD27), former Arizona Corporation Commissioner Kris Mayes, and 2020 Legal Aid Attorney of the Year January Contreras. One Libertarian, Phoenix-based attorney Michael Kielsky, is also running for attorney general.
TUCSON, AZ – Tucson Sector Border Patrol Agent Dan Cox, and a civilian motorist died in a head-on collision on State Route 86 outside of Sells, Arizona at 12:20 a.m. Saturday, July 31.
According to Chief Patrol Agent John R. Modlin, multiple emergency response agencies, including a life flight, responded to the scene.
A short time after the collision, both the Agent Cox and the sole occupant driver of the other vehicle were pronounced dead on the scene.
By Terri Jo Neff |
Officials with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released June 2021 operational statistics for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) last week, and it shows undocumented migrants are still seeking entry -legally and illegally- along the Southwest Border at an overwhelming rate.
According to CBP, there were 188,829 encounters in June 2021 with persons attempting entry along the Southwest Border. June’s total was a 5 percent increase over May 2021, which in turn had one of the highest encounter totals in nearly two years.
But CBP says more than one-third of the persons who attempted entry in June had at least one prior encounter in the previous 12 months. That means the number of people who had first-time encounters with CBP in June was 123,838.
CBP suspects the large number of expulsions during the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to the unusually high number of migrants making multiple border crossing attempts.
The majority of all June encounters resulted in a Title 42 expulsion, according to a July 16 statement by CBP. Migrant single adults continue to make up the majority of encounters along the Southwest Border, with nearly 105,000 individuals being expelled.
Encounters with family units (at least one adult with at least one child) increased by 25 percent in June 2021, up to 55,805 from 44,746 in May. However, CBP says this was well below the all-time peak of 88,587 family units in May 2019.
Unfortunately, CBP says the number of encounters along the Southwest Border with unaccompanied children increased to 15,253 in June 2021 from 14,137 in May 2021. The good news is that the average time in CBP custody for unaccompanied children fell from 133 hours on March 29 to 28 hours on June 30.
“This sustained progress is a result of the steps DHS took to reengineer processes and mobilize personnel Department-wide, including designating FEMA to lead a whole of government effort to assist the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS),” according to the July 16 statement. “This support has included establishing temporary facilities that provide safe, sanitary, and secure environments for unaccompanied children as well as continued support from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officers to efficiently and effectively verify claimed sponsors to support the reunification process.”
The number of distress calls and medical emergencies that CBP responded to also increased in June as smugglers were more likely to abandon migrants who fell behind due to the summer heat.
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“Although CBP does everything it can to locate and rescue individuals who are lost or distressed, the bottom line is this: the terrain along the border is extreme, the summer heat is severe, and the miles of desert migrants must hike after crossing the border in many areas are unforgiving,” according to CBP Acting Commissioner Troy Miller.
For the fiscal year ending June 30, CBP conducted 9,500 rescues nationwide, the vast majority along the Southwest Border. The agency continues to expand its technological capabilities, and has deployed 120 rescue beacons which are equipped with lights and signage visible from a distance.
Rescues are also facilitated through 2,165 placards CBP has deployed in remote areas throughout the Southwest Border. The placards inform migrants to call 911 and are uniquely numbered to provide rescuers with location coordinates.
CBP is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control, and protection of our nation’s borders at and between official ports of entry. The agency is also charged with securing the borders of the United States while enforcing hundreds of laws and facilitating lawful trade and travel.
In April, President Joe Biden announced his intention to nominate Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus to head CBP and its 60,000 employees. As of press time the U.S. Senate has not been asked by the White House to move forward with a confirmation hearing.
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.
YUMA – On Friday, Rep. Tim Dunn called out the Biden administration for their policy of releasing detained immigrants into southern Arizona communities, which include Yuma.
According to data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), in January, more than 5,700 unaccompanied minors crossed the border, up from 4,850 in December and 4,500 in November.
On Thursday, a CBP staffer reportedly told top Biden administration officials to expect a peak of 13,000 unaccompanied minors to cross the border in May — the highest level ever, according to the New York Post.
Then Biden admitted on Friday that thousands of unaccompanied children were coming and are expected to come across the border as part of migration surge.
Those migrants are being released into many of the communities Dunn represents. In fact, the Yuma Sector of the U.S. Board Patrol has apprehended over 8,600 illegal immigrants this fiscal year, up from 4,400 the previous year.
Dunn says the Biden policy has led to “burdensome challenges of adhering to COVID-19 guidelines at facilities, as well as to house a growing number of individuals here illegally.”
Latest reports show over 240 releases in the past few weeks.
“President Biden’s irresponsible policy to release immigration detainees freely into the community is already having predictable negative results,” said Dunn in a press release. “This is particularly the case in Yuma and other southern border counties who are left to manage the consequences. With Yuma County having one of the highest rates of COVID-19 in the state, our hospitals and city services are overwhelmed and could put care for Arizonans in jeopardy.”
“The Biden Administration needs to take responsibility for the consequences of its damaging policies,” continued Dunn. “I call on U.S. Senators Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema in Washington to work on our behalf to ensure the federal government is testing the immigrants it releases and provides us the appropriate financial resources to cover other costs being incurred.”