A majority of Americans oppose the construction of a border wall. President Trump’s insistence on building it has led to a bitter political impasse and a government shutdown. We spoke with a sheriff on the border who supports the president’s efforts. Guest: Mark Napier, the sheriff of Pima County, Ariz. For more information on today’s episode, visit nytimes.com/thedaily.

United States


00:00:00From The New York Times I'm Michael Bar Bar this today Today a majority of Americans opposed building a border But the White House continues to double down and the government remains closed A conversation with the sheriff on the board who supports the president's efforts It's funny January eleventh
00:00:38Hello Sheriff Napier Hey Sheriff It's Michael Barbaro from the Times Have you been from uncle I'm fine How are you today Good Cook A good And it's been a while since we spoke And we are again grateful for your time No thank you So to catch our listeners
00:00:52up remind us about the county where you are Sheriff and its relationship to the southern border Sure I'm in Pema County Arizona on the sheriff With that county we have one hundred twenty five mile letter exposure to the international border which is the largest of any one of
00:01:10the thirty one border counties joining the U S Mexico International War So you have a very up close view of the situation there No Absolutely On a clear day I can almost see the mountains in Mexico from my office window And you may remember the first time that
00:01:27we spoke nearly two years ago It was right after President Trump began cracking down on deportations And in the time since we've only seen immigration policies intensify I'm thinking for example of family separation I want to understand what it's been like for you down there And Puma County
00:01:46as these policies have been implemented and I want to start with the people trying to cross the border into your county What's been the impact of all of these policies on that What are you seeing Well I've been in this valley for thirty one years and been in
00:02:04law enforcement You're for a very long time and it used to be The migrants coming up from the border were traditionally Mexican descent generally single males coming here presumably to work or to engage in other activities But over the past year or so we've seen that change to
00:02:20more of a majority of Otm's meaning people other than Mexican descent and Mohr females and more family unit So it's very dynamic change and who's trying to come up through our border without proper documentation Taking care of family units is very different than taking care of single males
00:02:38Represents a lot of challenges with respect to housing And just because somebody comes to the water holding the hand of a minor child does not necessarily mean that the persons legitimate custodian and we have a system that incentivizes to some degree somebody in Central America thinking Well you
00:02:56know what I'll grab my mind our child by the hand walk hundreds of miles through environmental conditions that are harsh through areas of criminality in the hope of getting to America and being able to simply walk across And that's a human rights issue that we should not incentivize
00:03:12that activity because it's exceptionally dangerous And I'm glad that the president did this on Tuesday night He led with the humanitarian issue This is a humanitarian issue of human rights issue in a way and perhaps you don't intend to do this But in a way you're laying out
00:03:26the justification for family separation which is that the current system incentivizes people to bring children to the border because it increases the possibility that they will be allowed to stay to some degree That's true and I'm certainly I understand all sides of this issue and the specter of
00:03:46family separation That's a troubling sight I have four children I have a granddaughter was two years old I think any human is troubled by that site But in fairness to my federal partners there in it's just a terrible bind with this The system's just not designed to house
00:04:02this many family units and for their period that the asylum process takes It's just overwhelming system So you said that you appreciated the president using the word crisis on Tuesday night in his primetime speech So you think that he's right that there is at this moment a crisis
00:04:19at the border Michael Yes and it's not President Trump's crisis or this administration's crisis This has been a crisis the entire thirty one years I've been in this valley my deputy says I've told you in the past recover over a hundred bodies a year in the desert of
00:04:34my county and we've been doing this for decades So it is a public safety crisis not only from drug trafficking but human trafficking in the victimization of migrants at the hands of bandits and coyotes is also a public safety issue and there is an underlying national security concerns
00:04:51Mohr Cocaine is coming into this country We're having overdoses every day and that's not the president being dramatic That's happening in my community I know this is true It used to be if you got two ounces of heroin or two ounces about that ketamine that was considered a
00:05:06big bust in my part of the world That was a big deal This past week My deputies confiscated ten pounds of methamphetamine Ah you go back fifteen years ago that would have been on thought of you We could even imagine that Now Michael those drugs air not being
00:05:22cooked in my county We know they're coming up from the border And the other thing is that we know that the large portion of that amount of methamphetamine is not going to be consumed in my county It's going elsewhere It's going all over the nation So it's an
00:05:37evolving problem It's a very complex problem but it is in fact crisis It's interesting The you're sort of in love about this because there is a significant debate about whether or not this represents a crisis And in your mind it doesn't seem to be any ambiguity There is
00:05:57none and it's easy to have a debate and about casting aspersions to you my friend But it's easy to have a debate in New York City It's harder for me to have a debate When I read the resumes created by my deputies that say We recovered another body
00:06:12in the desert We went to another overdose We heard that another woman had been sexually assaulted on her way up from the border So this stuff is stuff that I live every day So while it may be an interesting political argument other parts of the country it's not
00:06:27a political argument where I live Well what about the idea that the president's own policies when it comes to those trying to get across the border And I'm thinking for example about Meet Oring those trying to get across the border for asylum or family separation that those have
00:06:46together effectively turned a border situation into a crisis So here I'm not talking about drugs but about the humans trying to get across What would you say about that Did in some ways thes changes the president made meaningful E make this all worse Will That's a two sided
00:07:07argument goes on The other side of that argument would say there are less people trying to come across now than there was ten years ago and that's a statistical fact And I don't know that you could necessarily blame this president But having been in this valley for thirty
00:07:19one years I've heard Democratic administrations Republican administrations one after another Say they're going to address this problem that they've got a solution to this that we're gonna fix immigration system We're going to secure the border And three decades later here we are what my fear is because I'm
00:07:36in the twilight of my career life My fear is that you'll be talking to some share of thirty years from now who will be saying I wish we could address this problem Well I think perhaps one of the reasons that Democrats and others are resisting this word crisis
00:07:51is because the president is using it to justify funding a border wall or to declare a national emergency to get a border wall Bill do you think that the wall sherif is a viable solution to what you agree with The president is a crisis You know Michael I
00:08:08was quoted two years ago a saying the walls of medieval solution of honor problem I remember you being quoted saying that because you said it to me Ah Wall by itself Is it in fact that But that's not what the president's talkingabout That's all we're reporting upon If
00:08:22You listen to the president speak on Tuesday and you look at that transcript The word wall I think only appeared in there three times in nine minutes What he talked about first was he talked about humanitarian crisis that he talked about the public safety crisis in national security
00:08:38concerns The next thing he said was technology Then he said human resource is and that he said physical barriers But we are also caught up in this term the wall and what constitutes a wall How high is it What is it made of There is no question And
00:08:53I mean nun and a part of any thinking individual that would say physical barriers are not a great tool in certain locations because they are They absolutely work but they have to be supported with technology and human resource is otherwise they're simply an impediment And that's what I
00:09:09was referring to when the president originally came out City I'm just going to build a wall Well a wall by itself isn't the solution It is a mediaeval approach What isn't a medieval approach is looking at the landscape that two thousand miles of international border and saying okay
00:09:25over here Physical barriers make great sense and we should erect them because they're a great tool Now I get in trouble with Republicans all the time because I don't come out with full throated support of the wall The problem is if you erect a wall and walk away
00:09:38from it it's a nuisance It will always have to be maintained It will always have to be monitored because people always try to defeat it We've seen that with the existing fencing A lot of the the wall thing was my uttering frustration two years ago with okay it's
00:09:55not that simple Their places in my county you will never build a wall And people might kind of get very angry when I say that But because it's not practical for like Teo for topography water flow land use reasons there's a whole bunch of reasons why they will
00:10:10never be a wall for the two two thousand miles over international border I'm less interested with how we secure the border than the fact that we do it This constant argument over what constitutes a wall on But what is that A physical barriers That steel is a concrete
00:10:25it's not moving the ball forward Let's commit ourselves in a bipartisan fashion to gaining border security which Democrats have previously agreed is a problem They've agreed to that a pass In fact they've agreed that physical barriers makes sense in certain locations So let's quit bickering about this Sit
00:10:43down and see if we can broker a solution to this and realize that physical barriers will always be a part of the equation But the term the wall has become a lightning rod divisive issue and it really shouldn't be I hear you on this But isn't it the
00:10:57case that the president's insistence on a wall running the full length of the US Mexican border is really the only thing standing in the way of doing what you're describing It really seems to be the case that Democrats Republicans mostly agree on almost everything involving border security and
00:11:17we could actually end the government shutdown pretty much today or tomorrow and also fun border security If we could do away with this word wall right So like it or not the wall is being treated as an actual physical wall and it's the president who's using that word
00:11:35even if he occasionally shifts away from you know what it will be made of exactly Well Michael I don't think it is intended the president now to have a wall going in nineteen hundred eighty linear miles international border Now he may have said such things to years ago
00:11:54but I really think the president has listen to experts and I think if you really look at what he's asking for he's now not asking for you know nineteen hundred eighty miles of wall He's asking for physical barriers where they make sense technology Human resource is That's what
00:12:12he led with Tuesday I've been critical of the president and I've gotten beat up for that But I was so proud of what he said on Tuesday because he made the case and he led with thing that's nearest to my heart which is a humanitarian issue Chef When
00:12:26you talk about a humanitarian crisis you tend to talk about more what's happening to the migrants or to the people affected by the drug trafficking The president talks about that sum and a little bit more than usual on Tuesday night but he tends to talk mostly about Americans
00:12:42being murdered and raped and victimized by people who have come into this country illegally Do you agree that that's a legitimate depiction of the crisis It is a facet of it There is crime committed by people without proper documentation and I think people rightly look at that and
00:13:01say Oh my God if we had not allowed that person to come into this country perhaps this would not have occurred and whether that's one person being killed or one person being raped or whatever is desperately important to the family of that individual So I think it's right
00:13:16to address that But Mawr my focus because it is a more pronounced problem is the victimization of of migrants and human rights aspect to the failed security at our border and the failed immigration system When I speak to groups I asked him sometimes what would you do if
00:13:34your family were impoverished If your family were desperate if your family were in danger how many of you do anything you could And almost everybody raises her hand And I said How many of you walk one hundred miles across the desert to try to find a better life
00:13:46for your family And most of them do except they'll realize I kind of took him Well that's the point Michael is there People in other parts of the world that are making very very desperate decisions and they're trying to get here for a better life and many of
00:13:58them are dying and the bones that we recover in my county Well that's somebody's husband somebody's brother somebody's father who maybe five years ago started walking from El Salvador and said I'm going to provide a better life for you and their family will never know what befell them
00:14:15I'm trying understand who you think is holding up the government from reopening and funding border security through the Department of Homeland Security Democrats and Republicans both agree on the need for improved border security President Trump walked out of negotiations a day or so ago when the new House
00:14:34speaker said specifically that she would not support a wall So how is a wall not the thing holding all of this That's a complex question probably one better addressed to the president and the Speaker Pelosi than some lowly Little County sheriff in Arizona But what I wish would
00:14:54happen is that we would kind of disassociate our discourse from the ward the wall and let's reconvene and agree that we without respect to partisan ideology or other factors agree that we need to have control of our southern border so that's what I kind of wish Let's quit
00:15:15talking about what A Wallace I'm disinterested in that Let's talk about what the best way to secure the border is But it feels like we can't quit talking about what a wall is I think a lot of people would very much like to stop talking about that and
00:15:29that's what I'm trying to understand I really can't see how anyone could move forward in addressing the crisis when the president continues to insist that there must be a wall and on ly a wall full stop Um I think the president has started to move away from that
00:15:47But remember a large portion of his constituents elected him because he said he was going to build a wall so I can understand where politically you need to keep that word in the vernacular of how you discuss this issue But he has changed in his his tune I'm
00:16:03glad to see that because again this Michael this is not a political issue for me This is where I live and where I'll live long after I'm not the sheriff So this is an important issue It tugs at my heartstrings as a Christian is a person who cares
00:16:17about people we need to address These issues are very serious issues See this has become a battle of who wins two and that that's both blamed to Speaker Pelosi into the person It's a battle who wins now Why do we wanna win The rial win is for the
00:16:31American people when we fix a very difficult problem But just so I'm clear you do support the president's efforts to break through on this issue and my my correct and describing it that way I support our political leaders breaking through on this that involves both the Democrats and
00:16:47the President I support an effort to let's let's fix this guys There is a fix here and let's move forward My understanding sheriff is that everyone does want to secure the border So what would you encourage the president to dio for this To move forward and to result
00:17:04in the kind of border security that you think is necessary to solve what you believe is a crisis What would you say to him if you visited you and your county as part of his trip to the border today I would just say Let's make clear when you
00:17:20enter the term the wall Mr President I believe I understand what you mean but I'm not sure everybody else does I think that people kind of hear the word the wall and they stop listening It's important to listen to everything that if somebody says and do I wish
00:17:34he say with greater clarity of course I do You know I have a certain style of communication and he has a different style But I believe I understand exactly what he means because he has listened to smart people around him And I think Secretary Nielsen is very smart
00:17:50So yeah he could make it clearer But I think people need to listen more intently So I have The president more clearly defined what he means when he says a wall to stay on the humanitarian focus the public safety focus to not go down rabbit holes or whether
00:18:05it's three thousand terrorists or four thousand terrorists or twelve terrorists These Air Strongman arguments this interesting to me There's no doubt that it is a national security concern that we don't know who's coming across the border No rational person would tell me that Well there's no problem there
00:18:19sheriff that we should just not know Well that's crazy So last question for you Sheriff For people who have been hearing this and perhaps are not clear what do you think the president really means by wall now I think he means and he said the word physical barrier
00:18:36So I think that idea has evolved and I think what he means is physical barriers work It's undeniable They do work in certain areas and I think that's what he means Just let's examine where they work You know maybe that's nine hundred miles of international board I'm just
00:18:51making that up for illustration And in these nine hundred miles we need to have physical barriers castle work and the other's wealth technology others human resource is I do not believe at all that the president intends as we might have thought two years ago to have a thirty
00:19:05foot high concrete wall on all nineteen hundred or two thousand miles of international border I don't think that's what he needs at all because if I thought that's what you mean is I wouldn't support it because it's it's not gonna happen Well sheriff thank you very much for
00:19:21your time We really appreciate it And until we speak again soon Good luck All right Well thank you my queen You call upon me anytime and I'll tryto intelligently responding to your questions Thanks very much Thank you On Thursday President Trump traveled to the border town of McAllen
00:19:45Texas to make the case for his proposed Wal as the government shutdown entered its third week I would like to do a much broader form of immigration and waken do immigration reform It'll take longer It's been complex It's been going on for thirty thirty five years They've conducted
00:20:03about immigration reform But we have to Before we do that we have to create a barrier that we could do very quickly While at the border the president renewed his threat to declare a state of national emergency that would allow him to bypass Congress to fund the wall
00:20:19Now if for any reason we don't get this going and they're not going to act responsibly and they don't mind death and crime and all of the problems that they caused by not having a barrier then you will see what happens with national emergency which I could do
00:20:32very easily And there's no question that holds up And it was approved by Congress Prissy Act itself was approved by Congress Back in Washington Vice President Mike Pence We affirmed the president's position that there could be no agreement to reopen the government without funding for the wall Opposition
00:20:50Democrats have already rejected As of this morning the shutdown will reach its twenty first day As of tomorrow it will become the longest government shutdown in U S history We'll do it back This is Sam Sifton food editor of The New York Times Whether you're just starting out
00:21:18in the kitchen or looking to up your game and Whitey Cooking is here with more than nineteen thousand times tested recipes and all the help you need to cook them well Subscribe today at enmity cooking dot com slash podcast Years What else you need tonight It The Times
00:21:36reports that President Trump's long time lawyer Michael Collins who implicated the president in a scheme to pay off women who said they had affairs with Trump will publicly testify before Congress next month Cohen has agreed to answer questions from the House oversight committee promising to give the public
00:21:56a quote full incredible account of his work for Trump Cohen will be one of the first witnesses before the committee since Democrats took it over from Republicans on January third And scientists have found that the warming of the world's oceans is accelerating far more quickly than previously thought
00:22:19of finding with dire implications for Earth's climate since almost all he trapped by greenhouse gases ends up stored in oceans The research published on Thursday found that oceans are heating up forty percent faster on average Then a U N climate panel estimated five years ago and as a
00:22:39result are killing off marine life raising sea levels and making hurricanes more destructive The daily is produced by Field Malcolm Lindsay Garrison Rachel Quester Andy Brown Andy Mills X rays comma Raja Claire Tennis getter Michel Simon Johnson Jessica Chuck Alexandra Lee Young and Jonathan Wolff and edited by
00:23:09Paige Cowan Larissa Anderson and Wendy Door Lisa Tobin is our executive producer Samantha Henig is our editorial director Our technical manager is Brad Fisher Our engineer is Chris Would and our theme music is by Jim Bromberg and Ben Land of Wonder Special thanks to Sandal Makayla Bashar and
00:23:32Stella That's it for the day I'm Michael See you on Monday Hi This is Debbie Hamlin crossword columnist for The New York Times Here's a clue for you What's the perfect comforting twenty first century habit The New York Times crossword Tried today and enjoy a month free visit
00:24:01nytimes dot com slash solve

Transcribed by algorithms. Report Errata
Disclaimer: The podcast and artwork embedded on this page are from The New York Times, which is the property of its owner and not affiliated with or endorsed by Listen Notes, Inc.


Thank you for helping to keep the podcast database up to date.