Fri March 9, 2012
AZ Lawmakers Want Travel Warning for Southern Arizona
For years, the United States has issued travel warnings for visitors to Mexico, but now a group of lawmakers want one issued for southern Arizona. That has officials along the Arizona border upset. They say a state travel warning will scare tourists away.
The proposed bill will create a state border warning system. It’s vaguely written but says the Arizona Department of Homeland Security will monitor threats of terrorism or, illegal immigration. If the threat seems real, the agency would warn the public. The bill was sponsored by Peggy Judd, a Republican state representative from Nogales. Judd didn’t respond to repeated requests for an interview.
Douglas Arizona mayor Michael Gomez is livid. Cochise County is a popular tourist spot for retirees and weekenders. He says warning tourists about illegal immigration is going to frighten them off when there’s no real risk.
“I have a message for Mrs. Judd," said Gomez. "She can pack her gun. She’s going to need it in South Phoenix more than she’s going to need it in Southern Arizona.”
One of the bill’s co-sponsors is Katie Hobbs. A Phoenix area Democrat. She says she doesn’t remember what she was told the bill would do when she signed on. But she says she's already changed her mind.
“When I signed on to the bill," said Hobbs, "I didn’t realize the devastating consequences it would have so I’m not supportive of the bill at this time.”
The state House gave the bill preliminary approval last week but it has not been scheduled for a final vote.