BISBEE — A bipartisan and bicameral group of lawmakers, including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, are asking the Government Accountability Office to study the effectiveness of Border Patrol checkpoints.
“Through this study,” the letter says, “we hope to gain additional information about elements and characteristics of interior checkpoints that contribute or might contribute to their effectiveness and to determine whether there are any adverse effects on surrounding communities that can be mitigated by (Customs and Border Protection).”
The other lawmakers who signed the letter are Sens. John McCain and Jon Kyl and Rep. Rick Renzi of Arizona; Sen. John Cornyn and Reps. Silvestre Reyes and Ciro Rodriguez of Texas; Rep. Bob Filner of California; and Rep. David Price of North Carolina.
Price serves as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Homeland Security. Reyes is chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.
In a press release, Giffords, D-Ariz., said the U.S. needs a comprehensive strategy to strengthen border security. She believes the strategy should include a checkpoint on Interstate 19 that helps the Border Patrol capture people who elude security measures directly on the border.
“But we need to demand accountability from the federal government and insist that the unique characteristics of Southern Arizona are taken into consideration as border security efforts are planned. That is why we are calling for this independent, third-party evaluation of checkpoints currently in use,” she said.
Al Garza, national executive director for the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, said he endorses the use of checkpoints, but he would like the border to be secured. “That is where the problem begins and it is where the problem ought to be addressed — right there at the border — whether it is additional Border Patrol, National Guard, fencing, virtual fencing or walls,” he said.