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Former Ariz. Attorney General proposes new approach to border

Published on Mon, Sep 12, 2011

In a paper published today by the Immigration Policy Center, former Arizona Attorney General and 2010 Democratic candidate for governor Terry Goddard strikes out at the state’s current border enforcement strategies and attempts to lay out what he sees as a superior binational approach to border security.

In criticizing Arizona’s current approach to border enforcement, Goddard writes, “Again and again, symbols trump reality, misinformation buries the truth.” Goddard is referring to recent efforts to build a massive wall, stretching the entire length of the U.S.-Mexico border, an effort derided by many as simultaneously impractical and ineffective. Goddard is similarly critical of the federal Secure Communities program, in which local law enforcement is employed to enforce immigration law. He argues that these largely symbolic and rhetorical efforts at securing the border could in fact be making current problems worse.

Goddard’s solutions to solving current problems at the Arizona-Sonora border focus not on undocumented immigrants but rather on what he sees as the larger issue in this region: Mexican drug cartels. He argues that the U.S. and Mexican governments must approach the cartels as business enterprises. In order to disable them, Goddard writes that the countries must work together to stanch the flow of money into these criminals’ hands.

For Goddard, because the Tucson Sector is the primary locus through which people and resources are smuggled back and forth across the border, it is here where any successful effort to abolish border violence must begin. This means that Tucson must serve as a model to the rest of the border region of how effectively securing the border starts not with capturing and deporting undocumented migrants, but with capturing and arresting the criminals that facilitate these individuals’ cross-border movement and propagate the border region’s larger criminal environment.

In short, Goddard argues that the ever-increasing relocation of undocumented immigrants back across the border merely serves to provide these criminals with more customers. Thus, U.S. immigration policy is essentially bankrolling those responsible for violence at the border. For Goddard, if the U.S. were to open up more legal avenues for individuals to make their way into this country, it would financially cripple the criminal syndicates responsible for border violence.

Finally, Goddard writes that it is crucial for Arizona to work with the Mexican state of Sonora across the border in a shared effort to attack the drug cartels, as it is impossible for U.S. authorities alone to go after those who are in charge of these criminal organizations. Through engaging in a truly binational attempt to capture the principal organizers of these illegal operations, the two countries could potentially disable their complicated inner workings.

Published in the Examiner: Tucson AZ | Read Article