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Governor: Federal officials exaggerating claims that border is safe

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PHOENIX – Gov. Jan Brewer accused Washington officials Tuesday of falsely claiming that Arizona’s border with Mexico is more secure than ever.

“Tell that to the survivors and friends of Robert Krentz, a dedicated community-minded man shot to death on the same Cochise (County) ranch his family had called home for more than 100 years,” she told those attending the 6th Annual Border Security Expo.

In addition to Krentz’s unsolved 2010 murder, which officials have said was likely committed by drug smugglers, Brewer also pointed to the 2010 killing of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry with a firearm that federal officials allowed to be smuggled into Mexico as part of a gun-running investigation.

Brewer said Arizonans witness the federal government’s failure to secure the border when officials raid drop house used by human traffickers or wind up in high-speed car chases in neighborhoods and on freeways.

“America’s failure to understand this problem at a national level and to deal with it has haunted borders like mine for decades,” she said.

The expo, which ends Wednesday, attracted more than 1,000 people to the Phoenix Convention Center.

In her keynote address, Brewer said that Arizona, Mexico and Washington need to manage the border in ways that enhance the economy. Wait times for goods crossing at outdated ports of entry may push trade to other states, she warned.

“Arizona needs a border that is secure in preventing illegal immigration but effective in promoting swift and easy legal entry,” she said.

Brewer said the Mariposa Port of Entry’s upcoming expansion, the Lukeville Port of Entry’s completed expansion and the new commercial port of entry in San Luis are progress toward that goal.

Chuck Winwood, a former U.S. Customs Service deputy commissioner who is now an independent border security consultant, agreed with Brewer that national headlines about the border aren’t consistent with what’s happening in places like Arizona.

“I think her message is, ‘Be careful how much you celebrate the so-called grand successes because you’ll lose sight of the fact that this is an ongoing continuing issue that needs a great deal of attention,’” he said.