Arizona 360: Border Trends, Rio Nuevo’s Development, Mike Cease


(soft music) – [Anchor] Trends
at Arizona’s border. – We had whole
sections of the border that were left open
and vulnerable. – [Anchor] A road project
and Pima County leads to a discovery about
the region’s past. – I think it also makes us
reflect on what we’ve done to the Santa Cruz River. – [Anchor] And Tucson Green
Party candidate for Mayor, on what sets him apart
from his opponents. – The political will
has been lacking. That will change. (soft music) – Hello and welcome
to Arizona 360. I’m Lorraine Rivera,
thank you for joining us. Over the summer, the
number of immigrants apprehended along the southern
border has been in decline. They peaked in May
at more than 130,000 and have gradually decrease to
just over 50,000 last month. Despite the drop the numbers
still outpaced previous years and present ongoing challenges for Customs and
Border Protection. We learn more about the
situation here in Arizona from Chief of the Tucson
Sector Roy Villareal. what are the numbers look
like here in Arizona? Arizona and Tucson in particular has been somewhat of an anomaly. We’ve maintained
somewhat of a status quo in that the although we’ve
increased our apprehensions by about 25%, it’s
not comparable to
what we’ve witnessed in other places such as
Rio Grande Valley, El Paso and then even Yuma just a
little bit to the west of us, where we witnessed
a dramatic increase in the types of arrest of
family units and children, for us family units here in
Tucson increased by almost 300%. – What do you attribute that to? – That’s the same phenomenon
that we’ve witnessed along the entire
Southwest Border, in that family units were
drawn to illegally enter, recognizing that
there was a loophole in our immigration system, which ultimately
led to this crisis. The other aspect is the
unaccompanied minors. When you look across the
entire Southwest Border, we arrested over 72,000
unaccompanied children. I mean that that number
in and of itself is it’s just mind boggling
when you think about it. We’re speaking of children
as young as four or five up to the age of 17,
traveling to the United States across multiple
countries by themselves. And it’s part and parcel
with the family units and the unaccompanied
children that caused our immigration system to
come to a screeching halt. – [Anchor] Much of the scrutiny
on the surgeon families concerns conditions
at processing centers run by Border Patrol. – My goal today is to dispel
some of the misinformation that’s out there in regards
to our center facilities. – [Anchor] In July
Villareal recorded a tour of the processing
center in Tucson known as a Tucson
Co-ordination Center. – The tool in front of
me is some supply card, that is available to families
and unaccompanied children. This is a combination for sink and the sink
provides fresh water. – The sector’s nine
stations can detain and process immigrants
apprehended by agents, but everyone is
eventually transported to the facility in Tucson. We recently saw
footage of inside one of your processing
centers where it showed there was an obvious
pinch on your agency in being able to
manage families, adults
and the resources. Has that been sustained? – One of the aspects
that helped alleviate some of that stress
and that workload was an infusion of employees
from throughout DHS, Transportation Security
Administration, Coast Guard, we had a number of
people that volunteered, they were search force,
and they were deployed to the Southwest border. And their primary
focus was the care and well being of our detainees. So at one point,
just here in Tucson, over 60% of my workforce was
dedicated strictly to that, the care and well
being of detainees. And what that accounts
for is the feeding, the housing, hospital
runs, transportation, to nonprofit organizations
once they’re released. So for a period of time,
the majority of my workforce was focused strictly on
that, which meant that we had whole sections
of the border that will left open
and vulnerable. What became problematic
was when these groups were being dropped off
in very remote areas. And that was very
strategic and tactical by the smuggling organizations
because they recognize that, for us, it required in some
cases shutting down checkpoints or station in order to go
out into these promoters in the desert and
pick up the family and it’s and get them
to a safe location. We’ve seen a dramatic
decrease in that and part and parcel
to I think messaging and cooperation with
the Mexican Government. – Villareal says Mexico has
deployed around 10,000 members of its national guard to its
border with the United States. In his sector, the Chief says
the two sides work together on a daily basis by
sharing intelligence and coordinating patrols
in vulnerable areas. One example involves
stepping up their presence in the West Desert
to deter smugglers from dropping off families
and children in a summer heat. Has your sector then returned
to some sense of normalcy? – Yes, one of the aspects
of that, and I think along the entire Southwest Border. At one point when we’re in
the midst of this crisis, our total detainee population
was over 19,000 individuals, those principally families
and unaccompanied children. Today we have about,
our daily average is about 4000 detainees
and just under about 150
unaccompanied children. Still sizable, not to say that that’s still not
having an impact on us. When you compare 19,000
to just over 4000, it’s provided a sense of
relief, a little bit of a calm so that we can better
prepare, re-adjust and again get back to doing our mission,
which is border security. – That mission includes
the construction of new border fencing
across the Southwest including Arizona’s
Tucson and Yuma sectors. Video released by Customs
and Border Protection shows construction
near San Luis Arizona, similar to what will go up along Oregon Pipe
Cactus National Monument and in Cochise County. Fair to say there will
still be some areas that don’t have wall
because the geography just doesn’t lend
itself to that. – We have identified
areas that we consider to be vulnerabilities
that present themselves for the construction of fencing. And there are areas where
there’s natural topography that serves as determent. In some cases, we’re replacing
old antiquated fencing with the new border
fencing style which is, it’s a 30 foot bollard fence with five foot anti
climb structure on top. And in other cases it’s
outright brand new fencing. We just started a project
here in Tucson Sector, going west of the
local Port of Entry and at its conclusion will
be 38 miles of new fencing. – Why is a 30 foot
wall necessary instead of 18 foot
in some areas? – One of the things
that you’ll notice if traverses Southwest
Border is that we have a myriad
of fencing types, and that is based on the
history of our design. We’ve designed different types. Heights of the fencing,
we’ve designed fencing that accommodates
environmental concerns, water flow, endangered species. The 30 foot bollard was
something that we tested very recently and we found
it to be extremely effective, in that it’s difficult
to climb, it’s 25 feet plus a five feet
anti-climb segment on top. It’s very difficult
to climb over. So able bodied individuals are
going to be deterred by that. That fencing
structure and design. – As we wrapped up
our conversation, the discussion then turned to
the Sanctuary City Initiative, or Prop 205 in Tucson,
that if past will restrict the Police Department’s ability to work with Federal
Agencies like Border Patrol. Chief you previously
worked in California where there are sanctuary
cities, here in Tucson there will be an initiative
on the November ballot, how exactly will the Border
Patrol work with local partners should it come to fruition? – Well, you know, the
one aspect irrespective of whether it’s a
sanctuary city or not, is that we’re going
to have a level of cooperation
with our partners. That shouldn’t change because
we have a common interest, which is keeping
our community safe. So, again I know
this is a referendum and it’s up to the
voters to vote on this. I think as it relates to the
law enforcement community, we’re gonna make every
effort to make sure that we continue our level of
cooperation and partnership. And then our ultimate goal
again is to enforce the law and to make sure
that we can keep the community and
our state safe. – Okay, Chief thank you. – Thank you. – 20 years ago, voters
paved the way for Rio Nuevo, a multi purpose district tasked with revitalizing
downtown Tucson. It began with a rocky start,
but in recent years Rio Nuevo has had a hand in
prominent developments like the new
Caterpillar Headquarters and the AC Marriott Hotel. The string of successes
led state lawmakers to keep the district going
beyond its 2025 expiration date. We recently checked in with Rio Nuevo Chair
Fletcher McCusker to discuss what’s
on the horizon. We’re coming up on the 20th
year now for Rio Nuevo. I imagine you’d like
to give it an A rating, where would you place it? – You would have to say mixed, I think you know,
(Lorraine laughs) because there’s really three
different periods in Rio Nuevo. The first 10 years, We actually
call them the worst years, since so much money
was wasted literally. And then the
legislature intervened and it took couple
of years to get going and the last five years
have been pretty productive. So you kind of have
to break it down into three different components. – At some point it was
considered controversial because of the
money that was lost. What would you say
to people who are, maybe need to refresh or
reminder on how exactly the funding works and
why the state legislature had to get involved? – Well, the tips were early, they were legislative
and basically turned over to city governments to run. So the legislature
once they approved it, even though it state money kind of took a
hands off attitude. So it just literally
ran off the rails. Yeah, several projects were
launched, they were abandoned. There wasn’t any
accountability for the money. Eventually, you know,
the press got onto that to star, did a very thorough
investigative report. And eventually, you
know, it hit the fan and the legislature was
faced with some options. We could shut it down, you know, and in what they
viewed as corruption or we could try and reset it. So what the state did in 2010, 10 years into Rio
Nueva’s history was basically take control of it from the city government. – Now, the Rio Nuevo Board
has to report annually to the legislature. Its members are
appointed by the state and they can be
removed at any time. There have been some
remarkable developments in the downtown Tucson area. I know this is a tough question, but what are you most
proud of at this point? – I think just the
overall activity, we’ve done 20 projects
in the last five years and almost all of them
is some sort of retail, some sort of modernization
of a older bacon storefront. If you look at downtown now compared to where it
was five years ago, people often compare us to what Austin was
like a few years ago. So it’s hip, its young people,
its food and beverages. There’s 85 restaurants
downtown now. When I moved my company
down there in 2010, I think there were three. – McCusker also credits
downtown’s resurgence to greater interest
from outside investors and business owners. The Tucson Convention Center
is next in line for a facelift. The Rio Nuevo Board recently
approved a $65 million project to renovate all the
venues on the property and build two new
parking garages. Tell me about some of the
processes that are in place to ensure that if you
make a deal with Rio Nuevo that you have to own up to your
side of the bargain as well. – The most significant
change we make is when we do a
project like that we take title to the property. So if there is a failure
Rio Nuevo end up owning it. That wasn’t the case years ago. And we invite the developers
to bring in other investors, other lenders, other
financial help us. We’re not the only ones
that are investing dollars. That’s a dramatic change
in the last several years. Right now, we’re only
putting up about 10% of the overall cost of
any one of our projects, but we have the most
leverage and that eventually if the project fails, we
will actually get it back. And that would have
prevented a lot of the issues that the early Rio
Nuevo Organization had if they approached it
the same way that we do. – Some of the more visible
elements for people I think are Caterpillar,
Cathedral Squares,
Sunshine Mile. What’s left as you think about, here we are at the 20
year mark, what’s to come? – There’s still a lot
of Infill Downtown, parking lots that I think
are going to stand up and likely go vertical
downtowns are about height. You know, I think you’re gonna see 11 12 14 20
storey buildings. They’re gonna have
retail on the bottom. They’re gonna have parking
which to help ease the problem. And we’re seeing a lot
of residential interest. So as we speak, there’s
2000 apartments being built in our downtown
urban environment. Coincidentally, they will
have the highest rents of anything in Pima County. So I think that’s indicative
of the interest and demand that are four people to live
in the urban environment. They’re not all millennials,
you would be surprised. Half of the population
is living downtown right now are people my age. – How much do you consider
public input because some people will hear high rises and
swimming pools and development but what about those, as
you said those barrios that are right next
door that will say, we wanna stay the way we are? – Everything we do
is in the public. We’re are a public
entity, everything we do has to be done in
a public meeting. We always have a
call the audience. Moreover, we do a
lot of reach out. When the DoubleTree was looking at putting their
property on Cochise. It’s immediately
across the street from one of our most
historic barrios. So before they even
drew the project, we started meeting
with those neighbors about what that might mean,
how it might and should look, the opportunities
to create buffers, to create outdoor activity that the barrio residents
frankly could use. And ultimately, we didn’t
have any opposition from that historical
neighborhood for the hundred and 75
bed DoubleTree hotel. And it just shows
that you need to and I think of all
developers would do this. A lot of the controversy
we have in development would be easier to manage, if you just sit
down and talk about. – Sounds like a
true balancing act. – It has been and it’s worth it. So no complaints from us. – Okay, Fletcher,
thanks so much. – Thank you. (engine roaring) (soft music) – North of downtown
Tucson early work on a new interchange at
I 10 and Ruthrauff Road on earth signs of what life was
like thousands of years ago. This summer archeologists
began their dig just yards away from
the Santa Cruz River. We got insight into
what they may discover from University of
Arizona anthropologists,
Thomas Sheridan. According to Sheridan,
human activity along the Santa
Cruz River in Tucson traces back 14,000 years, with the earliest evidence
of maize agriculture dating back 4100 years ago,
and evidence of corn farmers turning to field irrigation
at least 3500 years ago. – Tucson is really important
in the archeological world, you know, as far as
the Southwest goes, and then the Holcomb people
settle the Santa Cruz, later the Tohono O

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