Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano tours Arizona border

NOGALES, AZ - Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano was in Arizona touring the border with Mexico Tuesday.

She arrived around 10 a.m. on a Coast Guard airplane.

Her security team and Border Patrol agents waited at the airport for more than three hours for her to arrive.

ABC15 was told Napolitano was not going to be here very long and her tour is closed to any media.

We were told she is looking at custom and security operations here in Arizona. The Department of Homeland Security is being very tight-lipped about her visit.

This isn't Napolitano’s first trip to the U.S. border this month. 

She has made similar visits to El Paso and San Diego. 

There she did an aerial tour of the border and met with Border Patrol agents, local law enforcement and city leaders. 

A portion of Arizona's border is protected by an 18 foot high metal fence. The fence has played a large role in securing the state's border. But there's is a significant portion of the border where the only thing stopping illegal immigrants and smugglers from crossing is a barbed wire fence.

"It's a not a good barrier to keep people from crossing, and in a lot of those areas, there's no access to the road to get down and patrol the border," said Dan Bell.

Bell is a cattle rancher in Nogales. His land neighbors the Mexican border. He said in some parts, the closest agents can get to the fence is four miles away from the actual border. He said with federal budget cuts, the government can't afford to build roads for agents to patrol.

The other problem, the terrain in Nogales, makes it extremely hard for agents to even patrol by foot.

With immigration and Arizona's border security taking center stage, top Washington officials believe the border is secure. Napolitano testified last week, that statistics prove the border is the safest its ever been."

Our border is better staffed with more people, infrastructure and technology then in anytime in our nation’s history and the results are clear, Illegal immigration attempts are at 40 year lows, seizure of drugs, weapons and contraband are up over the past four years," said Napolitano.

Napolitano's visit is expected to include stopping at a port of entry, an aerial view of the Arizona-Mexico border, and a briefing on how operations are running down in the Tucson sector.

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