TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Effective border security is more important than whether a border wall is involved---that was the message Wednesday as Congresswoman Martha McSally met with border sheriffs.
The sheriffs believe a mix of methods---and better Federal support, are more reliable ways to make the border secure.
Smugglers make it over even the tallest border barriers. There are many miles of 18 foot tall fence but shorter barriers too, and no fence at all in mountains where a barrier is much harder to build.
Sheriffs like Pima County's Mark Napier warn against letting debate over what's a proper wall distract from truly effective ways to stop cross border crime.
"What we need is a blend as Congresswoman McSally points out of physical barriers when they make sense, technology where it makes sense, human resources where it makes sense but the overarching thrust of this has to be border security."
Congresswoman McSally says, “A 2000 mile sea to shining sea wall is not an appropriate or effective or a good use of taxpayer resources nor are you gonna see that happen out of this Congress in my view."
McSally favors a mix of barriers, information and technology.
Yuma County Sheriff Leon Wilmot says he was able to drop crime in his county 92 percent with the help of technology that helped his deputies cooperate with Mexican law enforcement eager to reduce crime there.
“We had to get manpower issues taken care of, open lines of communication, we have the only communication system in this state that I can talk to our Mexican counterparts in Mexico on our radio."
Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada did not attend the meeting in person but did participate by phone.
The Sheriffs say they are in tune with the counties they serve so Federal authorities should listen more to their expertise--and should really reimburse counties for the costs of border crime.
Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels says, “We get five cents to the dollar for housing criminal aliens so their expense is very costly to us. So that's why we need these discussions so we can fix that."