by Dan Gibson
Hank Stephenson of the Nogales International has a story for you: Three Nogales businessmen go to a state border security committee to ask for the committee to recommend to the federal government that more customs employees are hired to decrease the wait time at the Nogales port of entry. This wouldn't cost Arizona a cent, and in fact, the current situation is likely to cost Arizona money. Since the Nogales entries have the second-longest wait time in the country, companies using the port have threatened to move to Texas to increase their productivity. Outside of even commerce, legal visitors to Arizona spend millions of dollars in Arizona each year, so encouraging them to come in instead of stalling them at the border for hours might be a good idea. So, what would you guess the representatives of a state strapped for cash would do in this situation?
Although he’s been advocating for the federal government to increase Border Patrol and the National Guard on the border for years, the Republican co-chairman of the committee, State Sen. Al Melvin of Tucson, said he wouldn’t so much as sign on to a resolution (essentially a post card to Congress) showing his support for increased staffing at the ports.
The problem could be solved by moving the railroad tracks to the outside of town and using double-stacked trains to relieve traffic on the ports, Melvin said. Besides, the problem should be solved by the private sector, not the federal government.
“I don’t think we need more government employees, I think we need more private sector employees,” Melvin said after the committee meeting.
When asked how private sector could take over the ports, Melvin couldn’t elaborate. When a reporter pointed out that border security is a federal responsibility, he said the feds haven’t done it.