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Sheriff Tony Estrada: "We cannot afford SB 1070"

Check out this link for a bit of common sense amidst all the anti-immigrant hysteria now swirling throughout Sand Land. It's a videotaped interview with Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada by Eric Byler, co-director of the documentary 9500 Liberty, which chronicled the rise and fall of a measure similar to SB 1070 in Prince William County, Virginia.

The Estrada interview is part of an effort called Liberty Arizona, which has a Facebook page and a YouTube site. It's a project that mimics the one Byler and his co-director Annabel Park pursued in Prince William County, which eventually morphed into a compelling documentary dealing with many of the same issues Arizona faces over immigration.

Despite Governor Jan Brewer's shibboleths about decapitated bodies found in the Arizona desert, Estrada points out that murders are almost non-existent in his small, 1,240 square-mile county, which includes the city of Nogales, Arizona. Across the border in Nogales, Sonora, the count is more like a murder a day, he says.

"I don't think the illegal immigrant is a major factor in these issues of crime," the sheriff tells Byler of crime in Arizona. "In a lot of cases, they may be victims of it. But I don't think they're perpetrators."

Estrada discusses how the new law might mean higher insurance premiums for the county, if the county is sued because of failure to enforce SB 1070 or because someone's rights are violated in the process of enforcing it.

"If you don't do it, you get sued," says Estrada. "If you do it and you do it wrong, you get sued."

The new law will also mean a strain on the five or six deputies Estrada has per shift on patrol. If they're taking time to run down someone's immigration status, this diverts them from doing real law enforcement.

"One of our deputies could come across 15 [persons] at any given time, up in the valley or the rural area," he explains. "That's going to take a lot of time. Now if we're going to transport them somewhere, maybe going to transport them here, we're going to have to send I don't know how many squad cars out there or vans to bring them in. It's just a humongous problem."

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Such burdens, the resulting reduction in services, and a possible rise in property taxes, lead Estrada to conclude, "We cannot afford Senate Bill 1070."

Estrada is also concerned that the new law will a drive a wedge between law enforcement and the community, making witnesses to crime less likely to talk with the authorities.

Santa Cruz County is 80 percent Hispanic, with many from Nogales, Sonora crossing over legally to visit relatives or shop. Estrada also comments on the ties that bind the two sides economically and culturally.

It's a solid video, and I look forward to more like it. Right now this state needs a lot less hyperbole, and a lot more calm professionalism, like that displayed here by Sheriff Estrada.

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