Cochise County Supervisor Richard Searle
thinks illegal aliens aren't a big problem,
never planned to use emergency powers he voted for

updated May 28, 2010
A separate discussion of "boots on the border" is in preparation.

In 2005, the Cochise County Supervisors
declared a local emergency because of the border situation.

declaration of emergency is still in effect, the emergency is now worse now than five years ago, and there is no County business more important than the emergency.

Under their emergency powers, the Supervisors could close
down -- chain the doors -- of any business found hiring illegal aliens.  The Supervisors could declare a curfew from 1 am to 5 am on land within 100 yards north of the border.  Obviously, many more ideas could be developed, if the County would brainstorm the problem.

But if political pressures within the county make it impossible to discuss emergency self-protection on the merits, then we should all recognize that there will not be any effective border protection in the foreseeable future.

Cochise County citizen Diana Barton recently wrote all three Supervisors, including

    "... Can you give me some background on this state of
emergency, when, why, is it still in effect?? Also when the state of emergency was declared what action was taken? ...
    "Also referencing ARS 26-311 ... what are your thoughts on using this to declare a state of emergency by the county on illegal border crossers? ...
    "Can this Revised Statue be used to help us control the illegal activity pressing up from the border?
    "Are you or any staff in contact with other border counties on how we may all work together to resolve this issue county by county?"

So far as I know, only Supervisor Richard Searle answered.  
Here's his complete answer, exactly as he sent it:
    "The Board of Supervisors did declare a state of emergency in 2005 to support the Governor's request for National Guard troops on the border.  There was never a formal action withdrawing the state of emergency so technically it is still in effect.  As the border in Cochise County has been out of control for many years, this action was done out of frustration and as a statement to let everyone know that we need help down here.  There has been no actions taken under this authority and there have been no out of pocket costs to the County for doing this.  Because this declaration was done as a statement and not because there was anything that actually had to immediately be done to preserve life or property, it was enacted against the County Attorney's Office advice.  Declarations of emergency are allowed so local governments can take charge in actual physical emergencies, like floods, earthquakes, riots, or other disasters that need immediate action.  Although there could be some border related problems that could require actions authorized under this statute, most of what we are dealing with today is an accumulation of years of failed Federal border policy.  It took years to get here and cannot be fixed overnight.  Although closing businesses that hired illegal aliens could be seen as a strong statement, it would also be challenged by the Attorney General as being outside of the intent ARS 26-311 which would put the County in jeopardy and open to law suits without actually making the area any safer.  I am not opposed to using emergency powers when actually needed but cannot support putting the County at financial risk to make a political statement."

Richard's current statement contradicts what he said when he voted to declare the local emergency, at the BOS meeting on August 23, 2005.  The minutes of the meeting are at
Item 9 was the declaration of emergency.  It was an "Action Item," so only Supervisors could talk; ordinary citizens were not allowed to talk.  Here are the complete minutes of Item 9:
    "Vice Chairman Newman made a motion, seconded for the purpose of discussion by Supervisor Searle, to adopt Resolution 05-61.  Vice Chairman Newman also recommended that this Resolution should be signed by all three Supervisors rather than just the Chairman.
    "Mr. Klein explained that there are two Resolutions 05-61 and the one to be used needs to be identified.  The first Resolution 05-61 was submitted as part of the agenda packet and would declare a local emergency which would evoke a number of emergency powers.  The second Resolution 05-61 would support the Governor’s declaration of a state of emergency with out declaring a state of emergency in Cochise County.  Mr. Britt Hanson, Deputy County Attorney further explained that the declaration of a state of emergency by the County would give the Chairman the ability to rule by proclamation.  He also indicated that there was no statute that required the County to declare its own emergency to share in the funding.  He strongly urged the Board to consider the second resolution rather than the first.
    "Mr. Mike Evans, Emergency Management Coordinator, confirmed that he had spoken to Lou Trammel, Deputy Director of the Department Emergency Management and the County is not required to declare its own emergency in order to share in the 1.5 million dollars that has been allocated because the Governor has already declared a state of emergency for the entire region.  However, if the Governor decides to pursue federal funding, the County would have to declare its own emergency to share in the federal funds.  According to Mr. Evans, Cochise County is the only County that has not declared out of the four.  (Cochise, Santa Cruz, Pima, and Yuma)  Mr. Klein added that the County would not be precluded if they wanted to declare a state of emergency at a later date.
    "Supervisor Searle stated that he had no problem with declaring a state of emergency and that he felt the statement in support of the Governor's declaration didn't go far enough.  He also indicated that he had no problem with the authority granted to the Chairman by declaring a state of emergency and did not think those powers would be abused.  Vice Chairman Newman concurred.  Mr. Hanson read the scope of powers given to the Chairman during a declared state of emergency and emphasized that the powers remain in place until the emergency is declared over.  The powers are limited to the areas of the Resolution.  Mr. Klein also interjected that if the other Supervisors felt that the powers were being abused, the Resolution could be rescinded.  Vice Chairman Newman asked that the Resolution be read into the record.  Chairman Call Complied.
    "WHEREAS, Cochise County has for the last several years been a virtual highway for illegal immigrants from around the world to gain access into the United States, and
    "WHEREAS, Cochise County residents are bearing the adverse impacts of this influx, and
    "WHEREAS, there are several hundred thousand apprehensions of illegal immigrants in Cochise County every year, more than any other county in the country, and
    "WHEREAS, we receive reports of threats to life and welfare of individuals and families, livestock death, stress on cattle health, destruction of property and water facilities, theft and loss of water and human caused wildfires, and
    "WHEREAS, repeated contacts with Border Patrol, the Congressional Delegation, the Livestock Board, Mexican officials and the Governor of Arizona  by a variety of sources have only resulted in proposed long-range solutions that do not address the immediate problems, and
    "WHEREAS, our County Sheriff is already understaffed and overtaxed in terms of geographic area to cover and people to serve, and spends millions of dollars each and every year to address issues relating to illegal immigration; and
    "WHEREAS, the County border is also a substantial corridor for trafficking of illegal narcotics; and
    "WHEREAS, illegal immigration is a Federal responsibility, and the Federal government has been unwilling to solve the problem or to reimburse border counties for the costs incurred in dealing with these issues;
    "WHEREAS it is time for the Federal government to recognize and take responsibility for dealing with the crisis it has created in Cochise County and other border counties;
    "WHEREAS, these volumes of people are taxing our local governments well beyond their means to provide health care, and
    "WHEREAS, emergency rooms hospitals in Cochise County are overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of people seeking and requiring medical care, and  (at this point, Chairman Call stopped reading and suggested that the last statement might be a bit strong. He stated that our hospitals may not be over overwhelmed but they are impacted.)
    "WHEREAS, human waste and trash clean up in the wake of this mass human movement is a significant concern, and creates significant degradation to our fragile environment, and
    "WHEREAS, terrorist movement through our State is also a concern, and
    "WHEREAS, people are coming directly from their countries with no medical screening whatsoever and transitioning directly into our population, creating a bio-security threat for both human and animal health, and
    "WHEREAS, a declaration of a state of emergency could bring attention and much needed resources to Cochise County and other border counties in desperate need of help, and
    "WHEREAS, hundreds of illegal entrants are dying from starvation, dehydration and exposure, and
    "WHEREAS, illegal immigration issues have impacted not only Cochise County government and its services, but have adversely impacted all political entities within Cochise County;
    "WHEREAS, A.R.S. section 26-311 authorizes the Board of Supervisors to declare an emergency when an emergency exists, which endangers life or property within the county; and
    "THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED by the Board of Supervisors of Cochise County, on behalf of itself and other political entities within Cochise County,  that  an emergency exists as a result of illegal immigration and its resulting impacts, which endanger life or property within Cochise County, and that it is hereby declaring a local emergency; and
    "BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the State of Arizona provide personnel, equipment, and fiscal assistance to the counties as needed, and that the Governor do everything within her power and authority to convince the Federal Government to assume full responsibility, including fiscal responsibility, to resolve this crisis.
    "The Clerk was directed to change the word overwhelmed to impacted and to add all three Supervisors’ names to the signature page.
    "Result of the Vote:
        Vice Chairman Newman voted YES
        Supervisor Searle voted YES
        Chairman Call voted YES
    "The motion carried unanimously."

The statements made at the meeting contradict Richard's current statement that declaring the county emergency "was done as a statement and not because there was anything that actually had to immediately be done to preserve life or property".

Whatever Richard believed in 2005, I wonder what he believes now.  Ongoing property damage is notorious, and so are home invasions; the danger to our lives was shown by the murder of Rob Krentz at the end of March, and again at the end of April by the shooting of a Pinal County deputy by drug runners.  The problem is worse than in 2005; the emergency powers remain in force; is Richard now willing to use those powers, or is he still choosing to do nothing but talk?

People have died while the Supervisors talked and did nothing.  The time for empty "statements" is over.  Are the Supervisors going to use their power, or keep blowing smoke?

Richard is right about years of federal inactivity, and most people probably feel let down by the state legislature too.  And he's right that our problems won't be solved overnight; but so what?  Does he think that if a problem can't be solved overnight, we shouldn't even try to solve it?

A couple of other points:
    Richard is wrong when he says "Declarations of emergency are allowed so local governments can take charge in actual physical emergencies, like floods, earthquakes, riots, or other disasters that need immediate action."  ARS 26-311(A) authorizes local emergencies for any "natural or man-made calamity or disaster or by reason of threats or occurrences of riots, routs, affrays or other acts of civil disobedience which endanger life or property".  Richard should say how much damage, how many shootings, how many deaths, he wants us to accept before he will be willing to more than mouth empty words.
    Richard says that if the County used its emergency power to close down businesses that hire illegal aliens, the state Attorney General "would" challenge it.  Richard should produce the statement by the Attorney General that he's relying on.