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'They're not looking at us:' Cochise County Sheriff says president should hear from all border communities

Posted at 4:31 PM, Jun 04, 2024

COCHISE COUNTY, Ariz. (KGUN) — Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels says President Joe Biden's new executive orders for the southern border help with some of the problems at the border but not all. He says more voices needed to be heard by the White House, before the president's announcement on Tuesday.

"The border is in a non-manageable state,” Dannels said.

The sheriff has been vocal about his concerns over the increase in activity at the U.S.-Mexico border. It's not necessarily the asylum seekers or people who are trying to come legally he's worried about. It's those who are crossing the border illegally and then trying to get out of the county as fast as possible; even if that means fleeing from police.

“The smuggling still goes on; the high speed pursuit still go on," Dannels said. "The tragedies are still occurring every day.”

Just last night, he told KGUN his deputies caught yet another smuggler leaving the county.

“This has become the new norm here, sadly," Dannels said. "And we've allowed this to happen out of Washington D.C.

"I look at Congress, I look at the White House. But sadly, they're not looking at us.”

Tuesday’s executive order states that there will be harsher penalties for smugglers, but in Arizona, it’s already a felony. Dannels says he works with the County Attorney's office, who is processing smugglers at a faster rate then ever before.

“Law enforcement in this county has worked their butts off last three-and-a-half years with little appreciation from Washington D.C.,” Dannels said.

He says all he wants from Capitol Hill is to be heard, So Cochise County has a voice.

"Let's talk rational and reality and let's fix this problem,” Dannels said.

A problem, he says, is different for each border community.

“We need to address each section of the border in a way that is engaging in a way that actually fits the need." Dannels said. "You can't put a general brush on this, unless you secure the border completely and put the resources in there, and you have support from your sheriffs, mayors and governors."

The latest orders has the sheriff wondering if more could have been done.

"What I haven't seen is acknowledgment, engagement and prioritization from this administration to secure this border.”

Dannels says that this executive order isn't really going to change how law enforcement is working here in the county because over the last three-and-a-half years, they've been proactive. Now (we) have ways to keep chases out of city limits and know what to look for to catch smugglers passing through the county.

“We’re going to continue to do what we do in Cochise County because we're not going to give up on what we have to do to protect our citizens," the sheriff said.

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Alexis Ramanjulu is a reporter in Cochise County for KGUN 9. She began her journalism career reporting for the Herald/Review in Sierra Vista, which she also calls home. Share your story ideas with Alexis by emailing alexis.ramanjulu@kgun9.com or by connecting on Facebook.