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Pima Supes accept controversial border grant

Covers Sheriff’s border security costs
Posted at 7:43 PM, May 07, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-07 22:43:22-04

TUCSON, Ariz. - Pima County Supervisors reversed course Tuesday on a controversial issue they've wrestled with for more than a year.

By a one vote margin they agreed to accept close to two million dollars in Federal border security grants they had rejected before.

The money's from Operation Stonegarden---a Federal program that pays for law enforcement overtime and equipment when it's used for border security.

Critics complain that makes Sheriff's Deputies accomplices to Border Patrol.

Isabel Garcia of Derechos Humanos asked, “Why does the Border Patrol which has four to five thousand agents in the Tucson Sector alone need our 800 or so officers except to do strict collaboration? Collaboration of what? Of stopping brown people and you know it."

Stonegarden supporter Andrew Gullo says he lives on ranch near Three Points.

"I wonder how many of these people out here are directly affected by people crossing the border in that area especially this year now that you have hundreds of crossers every week. The Border Patrol has to address those individuals which leaves large gaps of security which nobody's monitoring because they don't have the people doing it."

Pima County Sheriff Mark Napier has long said Stonegarden money helps him pay for patrols in remote areas and he promised to investigate any claim of racial profiling.

Sharon Bronson is the only supervisor whose district actually touches the border. She sees legitimate fears from people who support and oppose the Stonegarden grants.

"Those ranchers and residents of Diamond Bell Ranch are really afraid to leave their property unattended. It will be broken into. I saw fences cut, cattle harmed, there is a real public safety nexus that that I think those who are in opposition to Stonegarden seem to be denying."

Though Bronson voted in the past to refuse Stonegarden grants this time she voted with Supervisors Miller and Christy to accept the grants by one vote.