9OYS Border Watch
Travel warnings in Arizona?
Several lawmakers want them, some border communities don’t
Reporter: Kevin Keen
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - The U.S. Department of State has issued countless warnings to travelers on their way around Mexico. Now, Arizona lawmakers want the Grand Canyon State to be able to do the same for those on the move and living in Southern Arizona. Border communities say that would harm their economies, tourism and relations with Mexico.
The proposed law would designate a zone in Southern Arizona reaching 62 miles (about 100 even kilometers) north of the Mexican border. Inside that area, the bill proposes: "The (state’s Homeland Security) director shall monitor information from any international, federal or state source and determine if the information contains any type of warning about dangerous conditions in regard to illegal immigration activities, within the Arizona-Mexico border area."
House Bill 2586 doesn't give examples of those "dangerous conditions," but if they're found, the director would issue an alert warning the public.
“This has to stop,” Nogales Mayor Arturo Garino told 9 On Your Side. “This bill has to be killed.”
Garino and others say the proposal would destroy his city's economy. “If you put this on a Web page, you think a company's going to locate in Nogales, Rio Rico or south of Tucson? No, I don't think so.”
“I think it's ludicrous,” said Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada. “It's harmful to relationships. It's harmful to the State of Arizona because the economy depends largely on the Mexican consumer and the relationship with Mexico.”
The four legislators behind the House proposal did not return 9 On Your Side's calls for comment late Tuesday. Garino sent a letter to those representatives and others in protest Tuesday.
When Representative Peggy Judd brought up the bill on the House floor last week, the Republican from Willcox said: "This is a bill that's going to allow everyone to have access--especially people that live on the border--have access to pertinent information that is important for them to be safe and protect themselves on the border."
Reporter Kevin Keen asked Garino: “Are you aware of any scenario sometime in the past when maybe law enforcement at any level knew of something--some kind of threat to a specific location and it would have been beneficial to have gotten that out to people who lived in that area or were traveling in that area?” “No, not really,” the mayor replied. “Not along the border region.”
Garino says his city and other border towns are safe and this legislation is written out of fear and misconceptions. “It's just widening the border. Is the fence going to be on the red dot now?” he said, referring to the warning zone boundary.
In addition to reaching out to the authors of the bill, 9 On Your Side contacted the Arizona Department of Homeland Security for comment late Tuesday. We did not hear back.