(AmericanThinker) – Mark Dannels is the well-known and respected sheriff of Cochise County, Arizona, a large jurisdiction that put its first county seat in the iconic frontier town of Tombstone and took its name from one of the most famous and feared war chiefs of the Chiricahua Apache. He is the chair of the Border Security Committee of the National Sheriff’s Association and was a member of the select DHS Homeland Security Advisory Council until removed by Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas in a sweeping political purge of its membership. Dannels’ department patrols eighty-three miles of the state’s four hundred mile boundary with Sonora, Mexico, halfway down a narrow ribbon of thirty-one counties stretching from California to Texas.
Border sheriffs in Arizona have long reckoned with illegal immigration, trodden for decades over the same sagebrush routes now used by the Sinaloa Cartel to ensure its majority share of the American drug trade. Unlawful waves of migration have waxed and waned over the years, contingent upon the party in power. Bush 43 wrestled with it, leaving it to flourish under Obama. Trump brought it to an all-time low behind hundreds of miles of new and replacement wall fortified by Title 42 and Migrant Protection Protocols that kept the phalanxes of border crashers inside Mexico. The Biden doctrine on unlawful migration has been to put a match to all things Trump while continuing to chip away at any regulatory headwinds that might slow the invasion.
For years Dannels and his fellow sheriffs have relied heavily on federal grants and state support to hold the line. Operation Stone Garden represented a longstanding bipartisan funding effort to enhance police presence in embattled border towns. Strong opposition to the effort arose in the Democrat stronghold of Tucson. Police Chief Chris Magnus, an Obama acolyte who took every opportunity to editorialize against Trump’s denunciation of sanctuary cities, withdrew from the grant program when the government denied his request to repurpose monies from enforcement to funding room and board for illegals. Magnus’s immigration activism and coddling up to anti-police groups are the right stuff for another calamitous Biden appointment. Over the objections of the sheriff’s associations , his nomination to head the Customs and Border Patrol now sits before the Senate.
If elections have consequences, 2020 predetermined a retreating American frontline both domestically and abroad. Biden’s Inauguration Day executive actions wrenched the reins of public safety from the hands of the border sheriffs. One of those fiats declared the southwest border a non-emergency , giving pretext to stop border wall construction and swing open America’s back door to huge pedestrian caravans pushing hordes of sick and abused migrants from more than 150 countries through gaps in the bollards.
In early 2020, things were looking up for cops and beleaguered residents in Cochise County. CBP was set to put up 32 miles of wall , filling in the open spaces and replacing worn and ineffective fencing. The wall was only the first line of defense. An installed network of fiber optics, hidden cameras, sensors, and lighting would allow federal and local authorities to sense and respond promptly to breaches along the line.
No sooner had he secured the nomination than Biden began spurring illicit migration into America. Dannels saw illegal immigration numbers jump from three hundred per month to 1,500 over the summer and topping 2,500 by year’s end. To many, those were the good ‘ol days. To date in 2021 , enforcement in the Tucson sector have arrested 183,000 illegals, eighty-five percent of whom were single adult males. More than 115,000 are estimated to have evaded capture.
On Inauguration Day, pressure by wildlife conservation groups and Democrat activists to halt wall construction was relieved by a single stroke of Biden’s pen. Alternatively, Biden promised to invest in drones and smart technology . Eleven months later, the Biden administration has yet to install a single light fixture or flip the switch on the high-tech equipment already installed by the Trump administration. A quarter-billion in leftover border funds have been redirected to military projects, such as overseas schools, housing, and shops .
For Dannels, small gaps in the wall next to idled construction equipment and unassembled bollards quickly turned into express lanes for a year-to-year increase of two hundred percent in illegal migration. Instead of facilitating vehicle patrols, unfinished dirt roadways on the American side offer migrants smooth passage into the arms of border agents handcuffed by presidential proclamation to do anything but catch and release.
From field interviews, Cochise deputies learned that many are headed to New Jersey, a deep blue state with lax immigration policies, hamstrung enforcement, and run by a progressive Wall Street type with a fondness for mixing business attire with lounge footwear and a conviction to put his half million undocumented residents on the taxpayer’s dole .
In early March, Biden further obstructed county enforcement efforts in Cochise County by shutting down three federal checkpoints near Wilcox and reassigning the three hundred border agents to immigrant childcare and processing duties. Dannels was now on his own, increasingly dependent upon a principal deputy, Tim Williams, who commands the county’s Southeast Arizona Border Region Enforcement (SABRE) task force. Singlehandedly, SABRE has labored long hours to stem the migrant flood, bolstered by a few state troopers and several dozen national guard personnel sent by the governor.
Success in suppressing Cochise border migration doesn’t account for the getaways. With the help of hundreds of county-installed cameras in the desert, Dannels estimates that out of five thousand alien border crossings in October 2021, more than 3500 aliens may have eluded his thinned patrol ranks. During 2021 to date, SABRE has encountered 33,000 aliens, arresting forty-seven drug mules and seizing more than eight hundred pounds of marijuana and other drugs such as methamphetamine and heroin. Across the whole southwest border, authorities estimated 300,000 getaways in 2021, 100,000 of which occurred in the four Arizona counties comprising the Tucson sector.
Crime and trespassing complaints in the border towns have skyrocketed. Ranchers walkabout their property well-armed, often bumping into small groups of migrants and drug couriers dressed in military-style camo and sporting heavy backpacks laden with belongings or narcotics. SABRE’s covert cameras dispersed across the desert terrain have recorded taildraggers flying under American radar and conducting daytime drug drops.
Rampant COVID infection rates and other diseases picked up along the northward trek soon take their toll. Cartel coyotes, who view delay as lost profit, abandon the sick or overheated to die in the desert. Dannels’s deputies often make rescues of forsaken migrants. Ranchers stumble over dead bodies, sometimes huddled in groups of three or four. Since Biden took office, the Tucson sector has seen 162 migrant deaths, ninety-one in the past couple of months.
It is Democrat wordsmithing to imply that the Biden’s border strategy is humanitarian. To claim that moral high ground is antithetical to its true purpose, to expand the blue electorate at the terrible cost of enriching the drug cartels, endorsing human trafficking and child abuse, killing hundreds for their efforts, and putting thousands more into forced labor, poverty, and crime on America’s streets. It is a willful crisis of humanity and an insult to all Americans if the Biden regime believes it can varnish it over with a few teleprompted speeches and scripted pressers.