September 13, 2019 / Modified sep 13, 2019 3:47 p.m.

Tucson Sector Border Patrol chief on trends along southern border

Topics include a drop in apprehensions, new wall construction and Tucson's sanctuary city initiative.

Customs and Border Protection saw a drop in the number of apprehensions along the southwest border over the summer. Numbers peaked in May with more than 130,000 apprehensions and gradually declined to about 50,000 apprehensions in August. Overall, the numbers still outpace previous years and present ongoing challenges for the agency. Arizona 360 learned more about the situation in Arizona from Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector Chief Roy Villareal.

“Arizona and Tucson in particular has been somewhat of an anomaly. We’ve maintained somewhat of a status quo. Although we’ve increased our apprehensions by about 25%, it’s not comparable to what we’ve witnessed in other places such as the Rio Grande Valley, El Paso and even Yuma,” Villareal said.

Villareal also discussed new construction along the border in Organ Pipe National Monument and Cochise County to raise new 30-foot bollard fencing.

“We just started a project here in Tucson Sector going west of the Lukeville Port of Entry and at its conclusion it will be 38 miles of new fencing,” Villareal said. “The 30-foot bollard was something we tested very recently, and we found it to be extremely effective in that it’s difficult to climb.”

In Tucson, a voter initiative to establish a sanctuary city would restrict the police department’s ability to work with federal agencies like Border Patrol. The agency is taking an apolitical stance on the issue.

“I know this is a referendum and this is up to the voters to vote on this. I think as it relates to the law enforcement community, we’re going to make every effort to make sure we continue a level of cooperation and partnership. And then our ultimate goal again is to enforce the law and to make sure that we can keep the community and our state safe.” Villareal said.

Arizona 360
Arizona 360 airs Fridays at 8:30 p.m. on PBS 6 and Saturdays at 8 p.m. on PBS 6 PLUS. See more from Arizona 360.
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