The Senate and House have spent months crafting their own versions of overhauls to the nation’s immigration laws. More than a dozen sheriffs who police the border from California to Texas tell USA Today that the plans from Washington will do little to secure the border. They say they have proposals that will work: more prosecutions of border crossers, closer screening of people going through border crossings, putting pressure on Mexico to do its part. They believe they’ve been shoved aside by a Congress more interested in cutting a deal than finding solutions.
“They’ve had every organization up there except law enforcement. I just don’t understand that,” said Doña Ana County, N.M., Sheriff Todd Garrison. “If we just had a seat at the table and could express our concerns, it would at least shed some light on these issues.” The border with Mexico is a nearly 2,000-mile range of starkly differing terrain where the problems of how to stop illegal immigration depend on where you are. The Senate bill passed in July attempts to solve the problem with a $46 billion “border surge” mostly spent on adding 20,000 new Border Patrol agents, and $3 billion in new monitoring technology, including sensors, radars, drones, and helicopters.