With tires from his car kicking up dirt, Santa Cruz County Sheriff David Hathaway went off-road on Monday, just a few miles east of downtown Nogales.
Its something he does a few times a week at the Arizona-Mexico border to check for migrants crossing into Arizona illegally.
He passed former President Trumps border wall, which never got finished being built, so some of the border just has a barrier that was built even before Trump took office.
However, some parts of the border just have a few sticks here and far between with no iron barrier at all.
All the times I come out here its just quiet. I dont see anything, but at night I have come across them on the roadways, Hathaway said about his encounters with migrants crossing unlawfully.
Hathaway said Santa Cruz County doesnt have a big problem with undocumented migrants, but said there was a huge spike of them crossing into the county when Title 42 was put in place.
So since the normal immigration processes werent allowed to function, yes, more people crossed between the legal ports of entry, he said.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection says migrant encounters in Tucson have already shot up over 19 percent in the first six months of fiscal year 2023 compared to the first six months of fiscal year 2022. They say almost half of those expulsions are because of Title 42.
However, even with Title 42 ending in a few days, he said he doesnt expect there to be a huge spike in migrants in Santa Cruz County.
People would be flooding in right now if there was an advantage to be coming in, Hathaway said.
Title 42 ending is also on Nogales Mayor Jorge Maldonados mind. He said his biggest worry is crossings being impacted at the Mariposa Port of Entry.
That our border does not decrease its hours, that our border is not shut down, he said about his concerns.
However, he doesnt expect to see a huge increase of undocumented migrants at the ports of entry.
If they cross through the vehicle crossings, theyll be turned back and theyll be punished, he said.
As for migrants coming through gaps in the border with no barrier, he said border patrol told him they do expect to see more migrants crossing.
Theres gonna be in the low hundreds again but there should be more than normal, he said.
To prepare for the end of Title 42 and to control migrant crossings, he’s already meeting with border patrol and local, county, and state leaders from Arizona as well as Mexican leaders.
Make sure we all communicate on whats going on and how were going to take care of it, he said about their meetings.