A Republican lawmaker thinks building a road along the state’s border with Mexico can stem the flow of illegal immigrants entering the United States.
Rep. Doug Quelland, R-Phoenix, said U.S. Border Patrol agents would be able to head off groups of immigrants before they enter the country if there were a road.
Once in the country, Quelland said the illegal immigrants are afforded certain rights that waste the time of border agents and taxpayers’ money.
The Phoenix lawmaker filed a bill last week asking the state to spend about $6 million on the road that would wind its way from Douglas to Yuma.
The road, which would not be open to the public, would be a lane-and- half wide and would also help to deliver medical assistance quickly to those needing it, Quelland said.
"This is not just me being an ultraconservative, or whatever you want to label me," he said. "This is also about me being a humanitarian."
Each year, dozens of immigrants die in the state’s remote desert regions after crossing the border.
Money for the road would be evenly divided among the state’s four border counties — Cochise, Pima, Santa Cruz, and Yuma.
However, the bill severely restricts the state from building on Indian reservations, military bases, federal land and private property without the owner’s permission.
But Mike Albon, a spokesman for the U.S. Border Patrol Local 2544, said the proposed road would do little to keep immigrants from crossing illegally.
He said federal agents can stop anyone attempting to cross the 481-mile long border, but eventually anyone wanting to get in will.
"If you stop them somewhere, they’ll just wait for a while and move on someplace else,’’ Albon said. "They’re going to keep on trying until they eventually make it.’’
Likewise, Jose Garza, spokesman for the Border Patrol, said the bill’s restrictions would do little to help his agency where it needs it the most.
Garza said agents have access to most of the border except for federal lands and mountainous regions where it’s nearly impossible to build a road.