The head of the House Immigration Reform Caucus says the shooting death of a Park Ranger in Arizona last week proves his calls for more security on the U.S. border should be heeded.
Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., also said the killing of 28-year-old ranger Kris Eggle in the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument near Tucson by a man suspected of having ties to Mexican drug lords was something he’s been warning for months would happen.
“I need the president of the United States to understand the severity of this problem, and to focus not just attention but resources on it ? and not just some public show of support and effort on one area of the border,” Tancredo said. “We have to put the military down here; we have to help these people.”
Lara Kennedy, Tancredo’s spokesman, told WorldNetDaily her boss traveled to Tucson for Eggle’s funeral this weekend. She also said she understood the FBI was investigating Eggle’s death.
“I don’t know if there’s congressional action taking place or hearings scheduled yet,” she said, “but I’m still trying to find out who would have jurisdiction over that.”
According to published reports, Eggle was killed as he and Border Patrol agents closed in on two suspected gunmen who had crossed into Mexico to perform a drug-related killing of four people Thursday night.
Mexican authorities became engaged in a shootout with the suspects, who then fled towards the U.S. border. Mexican authorities notified their American counterparts, and several Border Patrol agents and Eggle responded.
Tancredo said a Border Patrol helicopter spotted the car the two men were driving, relaying its location to ground agents. The helicopter hovered over the vehicle as agents closed in.
One tried to run but was captured, while the second took out a rifle and shot Eggle, striking him just below his bulletproof vest, officials said. Tancredo said the second gunman was shot dead as he tried to make it back to Mexico, but no Border Patrol agents or other authorities reported firing their weapons. That means, he said, Mexican authorities likely shot the suspect from their side of the border.
“The congressman said these types of incursions would eventually cost American lives and this is, indeed, an example of that,” Kennedy said.
Ranger officials say the Organ Pipe Cactus park has become increasingly dangerous over the past three decades, though resources to face the new challenges of increased drug trafficking and illegal immigration haven’t been increased.
The Washington Times reported yesterday that National Park Rangers Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police has ranked the location as the most dangerous national park in which to work for the past two years.
WorldNetDaily reported earlier today that Tancredo just completed his fourth tour of an area near where Eggle was shot – on the Tohono O’Odham Indian Nation – last week. He called for President Bush to deploy troops to assist local and federal border control forces to help beef up border security.
Tancredo plans to visit sections of the northern border next week, which could include the Detroit area, said Kennedy, adding that final travel plans have yet to be formalized.
Meanwhile, the Justice Department announced it would begin a new program of fingerprinting and photographing some foreign visitors to the U.S.
Set to begin on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, the program will be implemented at key ports of entry for a 20-day trial period. After that, Attorney General John Ashcroft said yesterday, all ports of entry would participate.
“The vulnerabilities of our immigration system became starkly clear on Sept. 11,” said Ashcroft. “This system will expand substantially America’s scrutiny of those foreign visitors who may present an elevated national security risk. And it will provide a vital line of defense in the war against terrorism.”
Visitors’ fingerprints will be matched against a database of known criminals and terrorist operatives. The profile will be aimed at mostly men from the countries of Sudan, Iran, Libya, Iraq, and Syria.