9 On Your Side Border Watch

War of words continues between Nogales Mayor and Pinal Sheriff

CREATED Jul. 8, 2011

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Reporter: Steve Nuñez

NOGALES, Ariz. (KGUN9-TV) – The war of words continues between Nogales Mayor Arturo Garino and Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu. One day after Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano visited Nogales, Garino fired back and criticized Babeu for criticizing Napolitano’s updated border security strategy to also fight drugs along the border with prevention programs.

The sheriff told the former Governor of Arizona her plan would fail without deploying more soldiers to the border.

“I'm not criticizing him,” said Garino. “I'm just telling the facts.”

But Garino is once again calling on Babeu to tone down his rhetoric and leave the tough border talk to local law enforcement.

“He's not a border Sheriff. He lives almost 90 miles from here,” said Garino. “We have our Sheriff here, his name is Tony Estrada.”

In a phone interview, Babeu told 9 On Your Side he criticized Napolitano because he claims she told a group of law enforcement officers the border will never entirely be secured.

“It's profound the leader, the person in charge of border security, is proclaiming that we can't seal the border,” said Babeu.

And that's why Babeu claims he called on Napolitano to adopt Senator's John McCain and Jon Kyl's 10 point border security plan that calls for deploying 6,000 armed soldiers to the border.

9 On Your Side Reporter Steve Nuñez asked Babeu if he's politicizing the issue.

"It may be Nogales is a very safe place,” said Babeu. “The rest of the border isn't.”

But Garino points to federal stats that show law enforcement is stopping more crime from spreading north of the border. 

"We don't need soldiers," said Garino.

Under Operation Stonegarden, Garino claims Nogales Police arrest ten times more illegal immigrants and intercept ten times more marijuana than Pinal County deputies. The federal program provides grant money to enhance the capabilities of federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies to jointly secure U.S. borders and territories. 

Garino also claims Babeu's calls for more soldiers is creating a perception of extreme violence along the border that's scaring away tourists and hurting his city's economy.

Nuñez asked Garino why he’s calling on Sheriff Babeu to deploy soldiers to Pinal County.

“If he's so interested put them in between Pinal County and Pima County because according to him his county is being invaded,” answered Garino.

Nuñez then asked Garino why he’s yet to pick up the phone and call the sheriff to settle their differences.

“If anybody's political I think he is and he's really affecting not only Nogales the whole border region,” answered Garino.

Babeu claims it would only cost the feds about $4 billion to deploy 6,000 soldiers to the border over the next two years.