Residents protest checkpoint - Tucson News Now

Residents protest checkpoint

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By J.D. Wallace - bio | email

Tubac residents were sending a message on Friday evening, by driving through the Border Patrol checkpoint on Interstate 19.

"It may be small, but it doesn't matter how many are here as long as we're here," said resident Bruce Pheneger as they taped signs to their cars.  "Our message is pretty strong and we think compelling."

"They may catch drugs there but I think those are just sacrificial lambs while they're moving a big load around it," said Garry Hembree, owner of Old Presidio Traders who also participated in the protest.

He said that he was worried about how the checkpoint might affect business.

"The economy's not good, okay?  The checkpoint doesn't help, and there's no way to determine what is what," he said.

But he has determined that the Border Patrol has better uses for its agents.

"In my opinion, they need to take those resources and those manpower and put them on the border," he said.

The Border Patrol said that the checkpoint is another layer of security against drug and human smuggling that is responsible for 25 percent of all drugs seized and twenty percent of all apprehensions in the I-19 corridor.

"Everybody knows where it's at.  They'll go around it and they'll go through it and they'll go through our neighborhoods, our backyards and put us in danger and at risk," Hembree said.

For his group, the Border Patrol's money would be better spent away from their backyards.

"We respect them for the job they do, we just believe at this time and this point, their strategy and their tactics are not really going to work and not going to create an effective barrier against narco-terrorism," he said.

While the current checkpoint could get another $1.5 million, a permanent checkpoint is still expected in the future.

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