An Arizona mayor is comparing a Border Patrol proposal to put razor wire on portions of the U.S.-Mexico border fence to building the Berlin Wall.
"We've had a black eye because everybody is using the border as a political issue," Nogales Mayor Arturo Garino said.
The proposal, according to Garino, would put concertina wire on top of the 20-foot-high fence to the east and west of town.
"Tucson Sector Border Patrol is considering a proposed deployment of concertina wire in the Nogales area," Border Patrol spokesman Brent Cagen wrote in an e-mail. "Currently this proposal is still under review. Specifics concerning this proposal are unavailable at this time."
Nogales is a major trade hub on the border, abutting the Mexican state of Sonora. It is considered part of the Border Patrol's Tucson Sector, which consists of 262 miles stretching from the Arizona-New Mexico border to Yuma County, near Lukeville.
Garino, a former law enforcement officer and member of the Southwest Border Task Force, praised the Border Patrol for the "tremendous" decrease in drug and human trafficking in southern Arizona. But he said that adding razor wire will negatively affect international trade.
"I strongly believe we don't need it," he said. "It's an eyesore. It's a dangerous thing. We need to build relations with Sonora and Mexico. Let's become a power in the world economy."
Victor Brabble, public affairs manager for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said Garino's concerns will be taken into account before a final decision is made.
"We are consulting with community leaders to evaluate the economic, environmental, political, and social implications our proposals may have on the communities we serve," he wrote in an e-mail.
Nogales City Councilman John Doyle, a Nogales native, echoed Garino's opposition to the proposal and said he was shocked to learn about it.
"We've always been the home of the brave, and now we are living in fear," he said.
Nogales officials will meet with Homeland Security personnel this week to continue reviewing the proposal, which is being considered as a deterrent to would-be illegal crossers, Garino said.
"Right now, it's a proposal," he said. "But if somebody says 'yes,' it's going up."
Garino also grew up in Nogales and said he thinks the best deterrent is increased manpower. Agents should be reassigned from checkpoints and interior bases to the border, he said.
"Bring the Border Patrol to the border and have them do their jobs."