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Border & immigration

After border tour, Brewer urges federal troop deployment

DOUGLAS - Touring an area where a rancher was killed, a crime investigators suspect was committed by someone in the country illegally, Gov. Jan Brewer and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson called Wednesday for the Obama administration to do more to secure the border.

"Given the murder that just recently took place down here, I think it's incumbent upon the federal government to respond," Brewer said after an aerial tour of the border in southeastern Arizona.

"We had our eyes opened by the very strong presence of cartels and drug smuggling that is taking place in New Mexico and Arizona, and we need to work together to fight this traffic," said Richardson, adding that he was surprised by the damaged landscapes and garbage left by border crossers.

Both governors called for more National Guard troops along the border after the tour, which followed the murder in late March of Cochise County rancher Robert Krentz. Investigators suspect the shooter fled into Mexico.

Brewer said she has asked the administration to send 250 National Guard troops to bolster the 150 already stationed along Arizona's border with Mexico.

Charles Selph, an Army National Guard chief warrant officer who tracks illegal immigrants crossing the border, said the area needs more troops.

"The border fence helps, but it's not going to fix the whole thing," he said. "We still need troops out there," Selph said.

Jennifer Allen, executive director for the Tucson-based Border Action Network, a group supporting immigrants' rights, said sending more troops to the border isn't the solution.

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"We already have enough resources at the border," she said in a telephone interview. "We just need to focus them on those who intend harm to the country."

Ann English, a Cochise County supervisor who lives in the Douglas area, said she's concerned about the rise in home invasion and other crimes attributed to those crossing the border.

"In the past, I left doors unlocked or left the windows open," she said. "Now I always make sure that the doors are locked, and I don't walk out to the barn at night unless I absolutely have to."

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Griselda Nevarez/Cronkite News Service

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer talks with New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson after an aerial tour of the border in Cochise County.