Arivaca residents 'monitoring' Border Patrol checkpoint - Tucson News Now

Arivaca residents 'monitoring' Border Patrol checkpoint

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Located 25 miles south of Tucson just off Interstate 19 at the Amado exit, the Arivaca Road checkpoint was originally touted as a temporary inspection location.

But nearly seven years later, the checkpoint is still there. Which is why residents in the Amado and Arivaca areas are asking the Border Patrol to justify its existence.

It's a problem anybody who lives along the US-Mexico border is certainly familiar with: the fine line between protecting one's community and not feeling like a militarized, police state.

Most of the people upset about this checkpoint realize there's still a need for security.

They just don't want it in their own backyard anymore, quite literally.

"My grandson is only ten years old and he talks about them. They don't understand why they're here, why they're standing with their guns," says Carlota Ray, a naturalized US citizen and Arivaca resident for 32 years.  "It's not good for my grand kids.  I don't want them to grow up seeing this."

Fellow Arivaca resident and protest organizer Leesa Jacobson agrees.

"Anybody who lives in Arivaca or anywhere around here has to come through this checkpoint on a regular basis, sometimes daily basis," Jacobson says.

Which is why this group of protestors are now monitoring the checkpoint.

Like 70 other checkpoints along the southern border, federal officials say this checkpoint is justified due to the amount of drugs and illegal apprehensions that occur here.

But residents aren't so sure.

"They haven't shown us that this checkpoint is doing it's job," says protestor Paula Miller.

Which is why they'll be monitoring the checkpoint at least two times a week.

"I think those are legitimate reasons (drug seizures and illegal arrests) but all we ask is that they show us all the illegal substances and the folks that they've stopped here. We would like to see the data that backs that up," Miller says.

Despite the protests and show of support from many people in the Amado and Arivaca areas -- not everybody is opposed to the checkpoint.

"Keep them here -- they're needed and they're great," says Wanda Helberg, driving through the checkpoint Wednesday.

She says the agents give her peace of mind every morning on her way to work.

"You know what, if it wasn't for them I wouldn't feel safe because like I said I leave my house at 12 am in the morning," Helberg says.

"So you're totally in favor of them being here?" Tucson News Now asked the passing motorist.

 "Absolutely."

In a letter to residents of Arivaca, Border Patrol Tucson Sector Chief Manuel Padilla stated that the Border Patrol "will not close the checkpoint." 

He further explained his stance saying, "to not use this effective tool would have a substantial negative impact on our ability to accomplish our mission."

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