Friday, May 12, 2023

Arizona County Sheriff Expecting Surge in Human Smuggling, Drug Trafficking With End of Title 42

Illegal immigrants walk across the Rio Grande to surrender to U.S. Border Patrol agents in El Paso, Texas, as seen from Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state, Mexico, on Dec.13, 2022. (Herika Martinez/AFP via Getty Images)

Illegal immigrants walk across the Rio Grande to surrender to U.S. Border Patrol agents in El Paso, Texas, as seen from Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state, Mexico, on Dec.13, 2022. (Herika Martinez/AFP via Getty Images) 

FLORENCE, Ariz.—A southern Arizona county sheriff said he expects illegal U.S.-Mexico border crossings, drug, and human smuggling to increase “exponentially” following the end of Title 42.

“While there is certainly an influx of people, this has been a disaster for a while,” Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb said in an interview with The Epoch Times in Florence, Arizona, on May 10 amid initial field reports of more than 10,000 illegal immigrants entering the U.S. Southern border each day this week.

“It’s not something that just happened overnight. It’s been ongoing, and it’s going to get worse.”

Counties along Arizona’s porous southern border are already experiencing unprecedented numbers of illegal crossings and migrants waiting at the Donald Trump border wall to be processed when Title 42 expires on May 11.

Epoch Times Photo
Illegal immigrants intercepted by Pinal County law enforcement on May 10 await being turned over to the U.S. Border Patrol. (Courtesy of Pinal County Sheriff’s Office)

“I expect that to increase exponentially over the next few days especially. The cartels will certainly take advantage of this.”

In Yuma County, law enforcement intercepted an estimated 800 illegals, with 400 waiting along the Mexico side of the border fence to cross into the United States.

“That was just this morning,” Lamb said.

This week, a similar situation is happening in Texas in the state’s busy ports of entry, notably El Paso and Rio Grand Valley. The U.S. Border Patrol and the state National Guard anticipate a massive inflow of illegal immigrants and a humanitarian crisis to follow.

As goes Texas, so goes Arizona, Lamb told The Epoch Times.

With federal government cooperation, the migration will proceed north by car, plane, or bus to communities across the United States.

“Everything that comes into Arizona will head to Phoenix at some point. That almost always goes through Pinal County—whether it’s the Interstate-10.

Epoch Times Photo
Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb in his office in Florence, Ariz., on Nov. 12, 2019. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)

“Lately, they’ve been pushing the U.S. Highway 60 to back-door us. We’ve had a lot of traffic stops up there. We expect to see an increase. Whatever comes in through Yuma, Sierra Vista, Cochise County. ”

“We feel like we’re the last gauntlet to get through.”

While the government claims to allow lawful immigration, Lamb said, individual border states are up against a wall of federal opposition to local action to stem the flow of illegals.

“The courts have reaffirmed that border security, and immigration, are federal government issues. Ultimately, they’re affecting the state, whether it be increased crime, human smuggling, drug poisonings in our communities—all of these are a byproduct of their failure to do their jobs.”

When COVID-19 health emergency authorized Title 42 expires in less than a day, national immigration law automatically reverts to Title 8, which prohibits expelling migrants without processing.

Texas Goes It Alone

In November, Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott, a Republican, invoked invasion clauses in the U.S. and Texas Constitutions authorizing his executive order authority to address the southern border crisis.

Lamb said that while Texas appears to be taking matters into its own hands, preventing illegal entries at some points, Arizona likely won’t act in the same manner, given the current Democratic administration of Gov. Katie Hobbs.

Recently, Hobbs made three separate trips to the state’s southern border with Mexico but has not yet committed to closing the border to illegal immigration.

“I don’t think Arizona will get the same response as Texas,” Lamb said. “I don’t think our government is committed to it. She [Hobbs] recognizes it as an issue. Her treatment is more reactionary than dealing with the problem before it happens.”

Epoch Times Photo
Open floodgates provide easy access for illegal aliens crossing into the United States from Mexico along the southern border wall fence in Douglas, Ariz., on Aug. 24. (Allan Stein/The Epoch Times)

“She’s talking about expending funds for transportation, dropping these people in communities across the state. She’s talking about housing for these folks when we have homeless and veterans struggling—Americans struggling. We’re talking about giving money to [Non-Government Organizations] to house people that came to this country illegally,” Lamb said.

As Pinal County sheriff, Lamb said the law restricts him to conducting search and rescue operations but does not allow apprehension and detention of illegal immigrants unless they commits a crime against the county.

“It’s not about stopping people from coming in. It’s about saving people, transporting people, housing people, accommodating people that came into this country illegally,” Lamb said.

“We’re in the business of law enforcement. This feels wrong.”

Wrong Message to Drug Cartels

Lamb said the government is sending a clear message to the Mexican drug cartels to push illegal drug and human smuggling into higher gear.

The recent deployment of 1,500 military personnel along the southern border by the Biden Administration was “misleading” in that their mission was not to stop illegal immigration but to help process illegal entries, Lamb said.

Epoch Times Photo
Border Patrol agents pick up four illegal aliens from Mexico after local deputies intercept their smuggling vehicle, in Brackettville, Texas, on April 8, 2022. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)

“Just because Title 42 is going away tomorrow doesn’t mean they’re enforcing it today. [Border Patrol] is overwhelmed already.”

Lamb said that until state and federal government officials get serious about preventing illegal immigration, “we’re in big trouble.”

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