by Jim Nintzel
An announcement from Congressman Ron Barber (who, BTW, will be my guest this evening on AZ Illustrated Politics, airing at 6:30 p.m. on PBS 6:
U.S. Rep. Ron Barber today announced that the new secretary of the Department of Homeland Security will be in Arizona next week, accepting Barber’s invitation to his southeastern Arizona district.
Barber, a member of the House Committee on Homeland Security and ranking member of the Oversight and Management Efficiency Subcommittee, will host Jeh Johnson next week, just a month after Johnson took office as head of DHS.
“The issues facing the people I represent who live and work on the border can only be understood by talking to them and seeing firsthand the concerns they have regarding border security,” Barber said. “That’s why I invited Secretary Johnson to visit Southern Arizona and I am pleased that he has accepted my invitation. I will continue my work with the secretary and my Republican and Democratic colleagues in the House to secure the border and make sure our agents have the resources and support they need to get the job done.”
Johnson will be in Southern Arizona next week. Details of his trip will be announced later.
On Dec. 19, just three days after Johnson’s confirmation by the U.S. Senate, Barber, one of only nine members of the House representing a district on the U.S.-Mexico border, spoke with Johnson to congratulate him on his new position and invite him to visit the stretch of border he represents. Johnson was sworn in as DHS secretary on Dec. 23.
In a letter inviting Johnson, Barber wrote: “The area of the border that I represent in Southern Arizona is the most porous for the smuggling of illegal drugs and continues to have one of the highest rates of apprehension for people entering the country illegally.”
Barber told Johnson that touring the border in Southern Arizona “will give you a firsthand look at the conditions at one of the nation’s highest traffic areas, talk with the men and women I represent who live on the border and foster a greater mutual understanding of our border security needs.”
Since taking office 1½ years ago, border security has been a constant focus for Barber. He has been a strong ally of Border Patrol agents while pressing the Department of Homeland Security to become more transparent and accountable has also urged DHS to do a more consistent job of enforcing security by improving its tactics and developing specific metrics for measuring the security of the U.S.-Mexico border.