U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., will guide Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge on a tour across Arizona on Wednesday to study the impact of illegal border immigration.
Ridge and McCain will meet with federal officials charged with regulating foreign immigration, and the two will view the Mexican border from a helicopter, McCain said this morning during a briefing for reporters at his Phoenix office.
McCain said he wants to show Ridge the environmental damage from thousands of daily illegal crossings and to discuss the "human tragedy" of people dying in the desert heat.
"There's nothing like seeing it in person to understand the enormity of the problem," McCain said.
Ridge's tour will include Fort Huachucha, where unmanned aerial vehicles are produced for long-range surveillance missions. McCain said the UAVs have been used with great success in Afghanistan and he wants them to become a standard part of border patrol activities.
"It will allow us to keep an eye on the border day and night," McCain said.
McCain is among a number of Arizona officials who say the federal government is failing to secure the Mexican border and prevent foreign terrorists from sneaking across. But McCain has joined Reps. Jeff Flake and John Kolbe, also Republicans representing Arizona, in sponsoring legislation that would create a sweeping guest-worker program that would make it easier for foreign workers to enter the United States and eventually seek citizenship.
Ridge also will visit Phoenix Wednesday afternoon to discuss Operation ICE Storm, a new multi-agency task force created last month to investigation violent smuggling rings for illegal immigrants.