TUCSON, AZ: Folks in Washington think that they not only have all the answers, they think they don’t have to leave town to get them. They’re wrong.
“Washington does not have all the answers.” There is no issue that that truism is truer for than understanding the challenge of securing the nation’s broken borders. And, there is no place to understand border problems better than Nogales, Arizona. This week that is where I went.
For over a thousand years Nogales has been at the crossroads of people moving north and south. Nothing’s changed. Today it is Arizona’s largest border town, where Interstate 19 meets the border with Mexico. It is ground-zero in the border wars.
You can learn a lot in Nogales. America’s borders are as much a strength as a weakness. Our borders are an engine for the American economy. Every year about $9 billion in trade cross the Nogales port of entry. About 300,000 trucks transit the border here. If you bought any fresh produce in the grocery store over the winter months odds are better than fifty-fifty it came off a truck that drove through here. The fruit and vegetable trade that passes through Nogales accounts for about 65 percent of U.S. winter produce.
In Nogales they also know an awful lot about the problems of being a border town. The most serious ones are the trade we don’t want—cross-border bartering in drugs, money, people, and guns—the four horseman of the border apocalypse.
I will be posting my notes from my visit to Nogales and the surrounding border area detailing the problems I saw and some of the solutions being developed to help address America’s broken borders. More to follow.