San Diego mayor Jerry Sanders, a self-styled liberal Republican who backed city hall’s failed Prop D half-cent sales-tax hike, has joined seven mayors from Arizona, Texas, and California in bashing conservative GOP presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee’s criticism of Barack Obama’s border policies. “(C)laims that our border cities are out of control are just not true,” the mayors said in a letter to Huckabee and the New York Post, recently reported on the Politico website. “Not only do these claims fly in the face of statistical evidence, but they also disparage the tremendous efforts that our law enforcement agencies have made to protect this border and the people who live in border communities.”
Huckabee had written a January 28 op-ed column in the Post with retired Army colonel Kenneth Allard that called out the Department of Homeland Security for failing to secure the border. “In October, the department admitted that more than 1,000 miles of the 2,000-mile US-Mexico border were not under ‘effective federal control,’” they wrote. “Just after Thanksgiving, a 2,200-foot cross-border tunnel was discovered in San Diego, complete with lighting and ventilation — and even a rail system.”
The authors also attacked the department’s use of Predator drones, made by La Jolla’s General Atomics — whose principal Linden Blue has been a Sanders campaign donor — as too expensive and advocated gliders, which they said were more effective. “Ten of the Sentinel gliders could provide stealthy surveillance of the entire border, for roughly $10 million — while DHS wants 23 Predators to do that job, at a cost of at least $200 million over five years.” (The piece adds that the maker of the Predator alternative “is Allard’s occasional business partner.”) In its response, the Sanders group wrote, “Under the leadership of Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Alan Bersin, we have implemented a successful strategy which includes greater collaboration with federal, state, local and tribal, and Mexican partners while facilitating legal trade and travel.”
According to Politico, in addition to Sanders, the mayors, all members of the newly formed U.S. Mexico Border Mayors Association, are John Cook of El Paso, Texas; Raul Salinas of Laredo, Texas; Pat Ahumada of Brownsville, Texas; Alan Krieger of Yuma, Arizona; Bob Walkup of Tucson, Arizona; Arturo Garino of Nogales, Arizona; and John Moreno of Calexico. The group is heavily featured on “Our Border,” an online social network run by Homeland Security and set up by former San Diego schools chief and airport boardmember Bersin, a Democrat who with his wife Lisa Foster’s family is a close political ally of Sanders and past donor to the mayor’s various campaign committees.