UA Researchers might help Border Patrol with checkpoints
Posted: Sep 21, 2009 6:09 PM CDT
Updated: Sep 21, 2009 6:09 PM CDT

Tubac, AZ (KOLD) - Residents and business owners in Tubac, south of Tucson, believe the Border Patrol checkpoint on Interstate 19 doesn't only hurt business, but it's forcing crime into their neighborhoods. They just hope a group of U of A researchers can shed some light on the issue.

The streets of tubac aren't seeing much traffic these days. Business owners realize the economy is bad, but they say the checkpoint up the road is making things worse.

Garry Hembree with Old Presidio Traders said, "It can't help business and it's certainly a deterrent to business I think."

The Governement Accountability Office released their findings on a study of Border Patrol's checkpoints back in August. The report says the Border Patrol did not effectively measure how checkpoints affect surrounding communities.

"The checkpoint is not catching them, what its doing is forcing them into our neighborhoods," Hembree told KOLD.

Hundreds of residents who live near the checkpoint gathered in Green Valley, after the report came out, to ask questions of the authors of the report and the Border Patrol.

To help the Border Patrol improve in the criticized areas of the report, they're reaching out to researchers. The National Center for Border Security and Immigration Research at the U of A is in discussions with the Border Patrol to develop better tools for evaluating checkpoint efficiency and how the checkpoints affect surrounding communities.

"Thank God, finally somebody is going to analyze this situation and see what's really going on," Hembree said.

Hembree believes the University research would provide real data to show a real problem.

But, he says he has a much simpler solution. "If they would put their resources and their manpower on the border and stop the flow coming across the border, we wouldn't need checkpoints or anything else."

The U of A researchers say this isn't a done deal yet, the discussions are preliminary and no contracts have been signed.