COCHISE COUNTY, Ariz. — Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels has been removed from the Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC) along with all other members.
He explained the bipartisan group advised Department of Homeland Security on homeland security issues, including the border, an area Sheriff Dannels knows well.
“We get smuggling every day in our county, every day. Our crime is up [and] our pursuits are up," said Sheriff Dannels.
Video released by Chief Patrol Agent John Modlin on Sunday, shows people using a smuggler to cross into Bisbee.
“In my county, Santa Cruz, and parts of Pima, what they're doing is they're smuggling. The cartels, they're evading us [and] eluding us. [They're doing] whatever it takes to get through us," he said.
While he and his deputies are working to stop smugglers alongside federal agencies, he and all other members of the Homeland Security Advisory Council got a letter from DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas telling them they would no longer be on the council.
"It was unexpected. I had no formal warning this will be coming. And what's unique about this is the fact that since the inception of HSAC, nobody's ever been dismissed. This is the first time,” said Dannels.
Sheriff Dannels was appointed to the council in 2018. He thinks now more than ever, the council's advice is needed.
“There are great challenges and to take away that experience that leadership that represents local, State, Federal-- the timing is, it's insulting to the American people. Were not there as politicians in the political fashion, but in a way that can help this administration, move forward,” he explained.
The letter provided to KGUN 9 by Dannels said Secretary Mayorkas will reconstitute the council in the next few weeks.
DHS tells KGUN 9, members have been removed and added by every Secretary in the history of DHS and the three leaders of the advisory council are still on and will be helping to evolve the council during this time of change. It added Secretary Mayorkas' decision to remove all of the members was in consultation with those three leaders.
DHS added Secretary Mayorkas will conduct a comprehensive review of how the council can best help DHS further its mission.
After the review, DHS said a new bipartisan committee will be launched with diverse membership representative of America and the communities DHS serves.