COCHISE COUNTY, Ariz. (NewsNation Now) — Law enforcement officials in southeast Arizona say they are facing a public safety crisis.
Sheriff Mark Dannels said Border Patrol has not properly staffed highway checkpoints for months in his county, leaving his deputies as the last line of defense against criminal organizations.
He patrols Cochise County, Arizona, which is located directly across from the U.S.-Mexico border.
“People are truly on edge in my county about what’s going on because they don’t see the solutions. What they do see is the trafficking, the invasion to their way of life, the trespass, the pursuit. I worry about that. The horrific event that is looming out there. A citizen or law enforcement is going to get killed,” said Dannels.
Cartels have ramped up production of dangerous and highly addictive drugs such as fentanyl and methamphetamines.
Dannels said it has only gotten worse since partner agencies like Border Patrol have reassigned front-line agents to administrative duties at migrant processing centers. Now they are on the front line of protecting communities.
“I have a border patrol station that has been shut for months, where they deployed 300 agents to other parts of the border to include child care and processing. That’s 300 agents that we no longer can use when my deputies stop a car with suspected illegals in the back. They didn’t come, I have no immigration authority,” said Dannels.
Dannels sees more foot traffic across the desert and over sections of unfinished border wall through security cameras.
He said his deputies are exhausted and the residents are frustrated with the situation. He fears it might escalate into a violent confrontation at any time.
“They’re [the cartels] very disciplined. They’re very structured. They’re mission-driven, and that is to get their drugs into the United States. They’re very protective of their business but that is built on fear and violence,” said Dannels.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Homeland Security are now tracking the amount of unaccompanied minors crossing the border.
Many of these children take the journey alone or come through with the help of smugglers.
On May 11, 2021, HHS and DHS confirmed 244 unaccompanied children were apprehended and placed into Customs and Border Protection custody.
According to both agencies, there are 20,519 children currently in custody.
These numbers do not include children from Mexico, who will be sent back to their country and will not remain in custody.
NewsNation Border Report correspondent Julian Resendiz says he has seen the effects firsthand.
“In the state of Sonora. We have a drug cartel called the Sinaloa Cartel. That is ramping up the production and distribution of methamphetamine in fentanyl,” said Resendiz.
Both men believe the solution to this issue lies in the hands of the national leaders both here and abroad.
The Biden administration says the increase in arrivals began in mid-2020 and that they are committed to implementing an immigration system that is humane, orderly, and lawful.
The Biden Administration released this statement:
An unaccompanied child who is taken into custody by Customs and Border Protection is brought to a facility and processed for transfer to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as required by law. HHS holds the child for testing and quarantine, and shelters the child until the child is placed with a sponsor here in the United States. In more than 80 percent of cases, the child has a family member in the United States. In more than 40 percent of cases, that family member is a parent or legal guardian. These children are reunited with their families who will care for them. The children then go through immigration proceedings where they are able to present an application for asylum or other protection under the law.The Biden administration