An Arizona sheriff with a big portion of the porous Southern Border under his jurisdiction is flabbergasted that his county turned down a federal grant that would help protect the border.
Earlier this month, the Pima County Board of Supervisors decided that after participating in Operation Stonegarden for 12 years, the county no longer wanted to be involved in a program designed to enhance the partnership between federal and local law enforcement to beef up border security.
The board voted 3-1 against continuing participation. Supervisor Ramon Valadez claimed the grant has eroded trust in the Pima County Sheriff’s Department, the Arizona Daily Star reported.
When the grant was rejected, activists demanded the county stop accepting the funds.
“It comes down to terms of the grant,” said Najima Rainey, the leader of Black Lives Matter in Tucson, according to the Tucson Sentinel. “The grant is for them to cooperate with the Border Patrol. That’s it and that’s what matters.”
“We have said we don’t want to cooperate with a government that commits acts that go against our community standards,” she said. “This is a bribe and an invitation to collaborate.”
Local law enforcement should not be forced to serve as immigration agents and implement the Trump agenda. I’m glad that the Pima County Board of Supervisors agrees and rejected Operation Stonegarden funding. https://t.co/5Hp4CSAdFz
— Raul M. Grijalva (@RepRaulGrijalva) September 5, 2018
Supervisor Steve Christy said foes of the grant did not represent everyone.
“You do not represent the total feelings or desires of Pima County residents of even come close to representing a majority of our citizens,” Christy said during the meeting where the funding was rejected.
During an appearance on “Fox & Friends” Wednesday, Sheriff Mark Napier vented about the rejection, saying that less money means fewer resources to continue his current level of coverage in under-served areas.
“To turn your nose up at this funding is just really unthinkable,” he said.
Napier said one Democrat on the county board told him that the only thing that has changed “is Washington, D.C.”
“If we’ve accepted this grant money for the last 12 years, and nothing has fundamentally changed about the grant, what has changed?” he asked.
“The only answer is the current presidential administration,” he said, according to Fox News.
Napier said he will continue to do his job, regardless.
“I still fully intend to cooperate with our federal partners, we have a great relationship,” Napier said.
But it won’t be easy, he said.
“I’ll have to look on how to provide resources to do some of the same things that we have been doing, but now with taxpayer dollars rather than federal funding, which puts me in a real bind,” Napier said.
According to Napier, if the board wanted to send a political message against federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement, it failed.
“Nothing the board did today ends Stonegarden, it doesn’t abolish ICE, it doesn’t change in any measurable way, our relationship with our federal partners,” he said. “Stonegarden money will continue to flow out of Washington D.C. through FEMA and it will go somewhere. The money that they rejected today will be spent by other people.”
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