TUCSON, Ariz. -- Hours before President Barack Obama addressed the nation in the State of the Union, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer took a helicopter tour of the Mexican border.
Brewer has long challenged the Obama Administration on its claims that the border is secure. On Tuesday afternoon she stepped off a Blackhawk helicopter in Tucson, escorted by the Air National Guard. She’d spent the morning flying along the border. She said she saw:
“Some fencing, a few Border Patrol on the ground, we saw some mountains where the scouts are, the trails, the garbage. All the stuff that we’ve seen in the past.”
Brewer didn’t say whether she saw any illegal immigrants or drug smugglers. But she did say she saw people south of the border putting on their coats and preparing to cross.
She also didn’t say what level of security achievement on the border would satisfy her. The Obama Administration has claimed success on the border since 2010.
“I would say Mr. President, you need to come down and talk to the ranchers and talk to some of the people that are working down here that are on the ground. They will tell you differently," she said.
The governor has raised this before. At what point is the border secure? Apprehensions have dropped to record lows, but drug smuggling has not. And cartels continue smuggling cash and weapons south.
A panel sponsored by the Immigration Policy Center, a left-leaning think tank, addressed some of those issues Tuesday morning.
Former Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard works with the group. He said people on both sides of the debate keep shifting the goal posts.
"The efforts to increase the Border Patrol for example, it’s not enough. Every time there is an effort to increase physical security, the answer is, however much you’ve done, it’s not enough," Goddard said.
The governor said she would serve on a border commission as part of an immigration reform plan sponsored by Republican Senators.