DHS Secretary Napolitano tours border
Nogales leaders want more Customs inspectors assigned to the ports of entry to reduce bottlenecks that inhibit business and tourism
Santa Cruz Co. Supervisor Manny Ruiz met with Napolitano. He's pleased at the interest in enhancing the ports
Nogales Port Authority Chairman Bruce Bracker was not invited to meet with Napolitano. He wishes he'd had a chance to advocate more resources for the ports.
Reporter: Craig Smith
NOGALES Ariz. (KGUN9-TV) - Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano made a quick low profile trip to the border Tuesday. This time her emphasis was more on the ports that pack such an economic punch for our region.
Secretary Napolitano's motorcade left the Mariposa Port of Entry about 2pm after a low profile visit that included Congressman Ron Barber, Nogales Mayor Arturo Garino and Santa Cruz Supervisor Manny Ruiz.
Supervisor Ruiz wants to be sure Napolitano understands Border Patrol needs good funding but so does the port so it has enough Customs inspectors to move millions of dollars in cargo.
KGUN9 reporter Craig Smith asked Supervisor Ruiz: "How did they react to what they saw and heard today?
"I think they were very positive," he said. "I think when you look at the Secretary being a former Governor of the State of Arizona, being a friend of the people of Nogales she gets the big picture."
Supervisor Ruiz understands why Homeland Security kept the visit, small, private and low profile so it was easier for people to speak frankly. Still there are plenty of people with stakes in the border who wish they had a seat at the table.
Bruce Bracker's family has been selling clothes to customers from both sides of the border since the 1920s. Now he also chairs the Nogales Port Authority. If he could have, he would have asked Napolitano about better staffing for the ports.
Craig Smith asked: "What's the consequence been of current staffing?"
Bracker: "The consequence of current staffing is the current infrastructure we have available to us all that can't be open at a given time so you pretty much have about a third of the current infrastructure closed on a daily basis because we don't have enough inspectors and front line supervisors to man all these positions."
And Bracker and Supervisor Ruiz worry border bottlenecks will get worse if Congress can't agree on budget cuts and automatic across the board cuts kick in.