Arizona's senators tour border, hold town hall - Tucson News Now

Arizona's senators tour border, hold town hall

By Barbara Grijalva - email

Douglas, AZ (KOLD) - Problems with illegal immigration and border violence.

It's life for people living along the Arizona/Mexico border.

And they have plenty to say about it.

KOLD News 13 went to the border town of Douglas Saturday, where Arizona's two U.S. senators took a tour, and held a town hall meeting.

At the meeting Senators John McCain and Jon Kyl, both Republicans, got an earful from people who live in southeastern Arizona, along the border with Mexico.

Many of them feel they are living in a war zone.

Ed Ashurst said, "My home's been robbed. I had two vehicles stolen. I've had nine firearms stolen."

Ashurst also lost his friend, fellow Douglas rancher Robert Krentz to murder along the border.

Before the town hall, Kyl and McCain, who is running for re-election, toured the border fence near Douglas.

Border patrol agents were their guides.

"When we said, what do you need, the answer was essentially, more of everything," Kyl said.  

"The fact is that they need some significant help, whether it be personnel, technology for improving the physical barrier to the crossers," said McCain.

The town hall brought out nearly 100 people who live in and around cities and towns along the Arizona/Mexico border.

They had plenty to say to their senators. 

Joyce Bracht is from Hereford.

"I can't ride my horses because it's too dangerous. That should be your number one responsibility to make us safe," she said.

Huachuca City Mayor Byron Robertson told the lawmakers, "Last week when my police chief called me in and told me that an SUV-minivan had been stopped on I-10 with a 50-caliber machine gun mounted in the back and a rocket launcher."

Larry Vance of Douglas said, "I will not stand by and let my country be overrun by different cultures, different beliefs, different religions, different anything, and not fight back."@

"The career politicians in Congress are part of the problem, not part of the solution," said Rick Barr of Sierra Vista.

Many in the audience expressed anger at reports the Obama Administration will sue Arizona over the state's tough new immigration law.

Jeff Gee is from Portal.

"We know that it's working, and it hasn't even gone into effect yet. Because, as the gentleman said, some illegal aliens are already self-deporting," Gee said.

Though many in the audience liked what they were hearing from the senators, frustration was a recurrent theme.

Carlos Valenzuela of Douglas expressed it this way:  "We can hear something really great here, but then they can't seem to find the consensus in Washington."

After the town hall, we went back to rancher Ed Ashurst to ask him what he thought had been accomplished. 

He said, "Nothing. Absolutely nothing. We need action. We don't need words. Everybody's aware of the problem. We need some solutions."

Before the town hall, Senators McCain and Kyl had a closed door meeting with local ranchers.

We're told the discussion was sometimes emotional and heated on the part of the ranchers. 

©2010 KOLD. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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