YUMA, AZ - When it comes to security at the border, there are two different perspectives.
People are used to seeing an 18-foot-high metal fence, and in Yuma, the border is even more secure. Three different barriers built in San Luis make it harder for people who are trying to cross illegally.
“It gives us time to assess what we have. Are we looking at four, five or 10 people? Are they bringing across any drugs? Then we can come up with a plan to catch them before they even cross,” said U.S. Border Patrol Agent Enrique Zarate.
The Yuma Sector has been highlighted as one of the most successful places along the southwest for their border security efforts.
The numbers support the claims. In 2005, agents in Yuma arrested more than 138,000 people. Those numbers dropped dramatically every year. In 2012, agents arrested about 6,000.
In Nogales, there’s another side to border security, where the metal fence stops and the only barrier that exists is a barbed-wire fence.
“There are areas where you feel safe…there are areas where you don’t,” said cattle rancher Dan Bell.
Bell showed us proof that the border was not as secure as everyone thinks.
“Last week this fence was up, so someone has cut it, you can see a lot of foot prints,” Bell said, gesturing to an area around the border fence.
While the Tucson sector’s numbers have dramatically declined over the years, the main difference between the two regions is infrastructure. The terrain in the Tucson sector is much different from Yuma’s.
“It is so rough and rugged, there are no roads along the border. In some areas, even if you wanted to do something, you can’t because it is a wilderness designation,” said Bell.
In fact, the closest agents can get by car or ATV in some parts is still four miles away from the actual border. But in Yuma, the land is much more flat, allowing the metal fence to stretch along the entire sector and the closest access is just a few feet away.
“It’s an advantage to have that accessibility,” said Zarate.
That accessibility might be the key to making sure Arizona’s entire border is safe.
Statistics for Border Patrol's Tucson and Yuma Sectors:
Tucson Agents Yuma Agents Tucson Arrests Yuma Arrests
2005 2,32 547 439,079 138,438
2006 2,595 774 392,074 118,549
2007 2,806 825 378,239 37,992
2008 3,049 932 317,696 8,363
2009 3,318 972 241,673 6,951
2010 3,353 987 212,202 7116
2011 4,239 969 123,285 5,833
2012 4,176 954 120,000 6,500
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