Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., will guide Homeland S ecurity Director Tom Ridge on a tour along the Arizona-Mexico border today to study the impact of immigration.
Ridge will meet with federal officials who regulate foreign immigration, and he will join the senator to view the Mexican border from a helicopter, McCain said Tuesday.
McCain said he wants to show Ridge the environmental damage from thousands of daily illegal crossings and discuss the "human tragedy" of people dying in the desert heat.
"I really believe that you have to see our border, the devastation (created by) the trails, the wreckage of our wildlife refuges on the border, the breaches in the fences, the enormity of the problem," McCain said. "I don’t mean to say that he doesn’t understand the problem. But there’s nothing like seeing it."
Ridge’s tour will include the Army’s Fort Huachuca near Sierra Vista, where Unmanned Aerial Vehicles are produced for long-range surveillance missions. McCain said the drones mounted with infrared cameras have been used with great success as part of the war in Afghanistan, and next year he will propose legislation for a pilot program to use them in Arizona.
"It will allow us to at least keep an eye on the border day and night," McCain said.
Ridge also will meet this afternoon with Arizona’s Homeland Security director Frank Navarrete, local law enforcement officers, and officials for the U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Russell Ahr, a spokesman for ICE’s Phoenix office, said the meeting will focus on Operation ICE Storm, a new, multi-agency crackdown on people who smuggle illegal immigrants across the border.