Tucson council votes to support Nogales in fight against razor wire

TUCSON – The City Council voted Wednesday night to support Nogales in its fight with the Homeland Security Department and the military over concertina wire strung along the border fence that runs through town.

The council voted 7-0 to back Nogales in its demand that federal authorities strip concertina wire from the steel fence separating Arizona from Sonora.

The U.S. military began stringing concertina wire on the fence in November. DHS said it worried migrants, mostly asylum seekers, would try to rush into the U.S. and avoid waiting in Mexico for their cases to be heard.

Then the military tripled down, adding multiple rows of the gleaming wire, which Nogales officials complained was more appropriate for a war zone than a border city that depends on Mexico to survive economically.

Tucson council members repeatedly used such words as “repulsive” before the vote Wednesday night.

“To be frank, the raising of razor wire is repulsive and abhorrent and we should not stand for an affront to our communities as is happening right now,” Councilwoman Regina Romero said.

Councilman Steve Kozachik said the city is still receiving scores of asylum seekers released by Immigration and Customs Enforcement to a Tucson church.

“If the president wants to talk about a national emergency, we have a humanitarian emergency that we as a community, not as a city government but as a community, are addressing every single day,” Kozachik said.

The unanimous vote was met with applause. City officials also wanted to make sure the city did no business with local companies that contract to build new barriers along the border.

This story is part of Elemental: Covering Sustainability, a multimedia collaboration between Cronkite News, Arizona PBS, KJZZ, KPCC, Rocky Mountain PBS and PBS SoCal.