Rep. Zack Space calls Arizona border trip 'eye-opening'
Gazette Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON - The challenge of stopping drugs and illegal immigrants from crossing the U.S.-Mexican border is "much greater than I envisioned," Rep. Zack Space (Ohio) said Monday after spending a day with Border Patrol agents in Arizona.

Space, D-Dover, inspected border facilities, rode with an agent and watched the detention of a man who tried to make a run across the border. Space also said he saw men with walkie-talkies on the Mexican side of a security fence in Nogales waiting with groups of people authorities said would probably try to enter the United States under cover of darkness.

Smuggling is a lucrative business, Space, who represents Chillicothe and most of Ross County, said. He said suspicious agents in Arizona found $30,000 in what they believe were smuggling payments on a man during a search of cars driving from the United States to Mexico.

"We need to devote more resources to the Border Patrol. We need more (security) equipment, more detention beds," said Space, who toured the Nogales port of entry with several other House Democrats on Sunday. The group headed for El Paso, Texas, on Monday.
Space also said he believes the 700 miles of fencing Congress authorized in the Secure Fence Act of 2006 is necessary.

A fence will not stop someone determined to illegally cross the border, but Space said it would slow smugglers and force them to take routes patrolled by federal and local authorities.

Space said his trip to the border underscores the need for Congress to pass the Secure America with Verification and Enforcement (SAVE) Act. The bill would require employers to verify that their workers are in the United States legally using a federal database. The legislation also would authorize money for 8,000 additional Border Patrol agents.

Illegal immigration may be a major issue in some 2008 congressional races across the country.

Space said immigration is the top topic for many of his constituents.

"I probably get more immigration questions than I get on the war or on gasoline prices," he said. ... 00320/1002