Jan 22, 2014 8:07 PM by Sam Salzwedel

New DHS Secretary visits Border near Tucson

TUCSON - The new Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson toured the Arizona-Mexico Border Wednesday.

Johnson has held the position less than 1 month. He was in the Border Region of Texas Tuesday.

U.S. Rep. Ron Barber represents 1 of 9 congressional districts on the Mexican Border and serves on the House Committee on Homeland Security. He toured the Border in Cochise County with Johnson.

In a news conference following the tour, Johnson did not address the issue of the shootings south of Douglas in Agua Prieta. Barber said in their talks with ranchers, law enforcement and others affected, nobody asked about the violence across the border.

"The Agua Prieta shooting did not come up. It was a free-flowing meeting. People could say whatever was on their minds," Barber said. "I think what I've heard privately from people who live and work down there is that they understand what's going on, that this was cartel on cartel violence, that if people are not involved in those activities, they are unlikely to be involved in the violence."

Also on Wednesday morning, a couple dozen protesters marched to Border Patrol's Tucson headquarters. They were asking the agency to remove the checkpoint on Arivaca Road in Amado.

Leesa Jacobson lives in Arivaca and read a letter the group sent to Tucson Sector Border Patrol Chief Manuel Padilla.

"The checkpoint severely interferes with the rights of local residents," Jacobson said. "Residents are intimidated by armed federal agents and subjected to improper questioning and warrantless searches, in violation of their 4th, 5th and 14th Amendment rights."

They announced they will use volunteers to monitor the behavior of agents at the checkpoint. Peter Ragan said they would even try to use video and pictures as documentation.

"We're going to start off with people that we can train," Ragan said. "We're going to hopefully build from there. But I don't think that we are going to start 24/7, but that would be something we look forward to doing."

Congressman Barber believes the checkpoints can be useful.

"Having everything on the border, I don't think that's reasonable," Barber said. "I think we have to have people staging back from the border, because people will get through. And that's where these checkpoints come in. But regardless of where we put the intervention or the checkpoint, the respect American citizens should expect has to be there."


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