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Sep 7, 2013 3:28 PM by Tony Spehar

Border communities say Washington debate misguided

SAN DIEGO (AP) - Ranchers, deputies and lawmakers from states along the U.S.-Mexico border have long pleaded for federal help, saying their areas were overrun by people entering the country illegally and armed smugglers.

But today there is growing opposition along the nearly 2,000-mile boundary to more agents and fences.

The Border Mayors Association says hours-long waits at crossings have cost the region billions by deterring Mexican shoppers and delaying U.S. shipments.

Border mayors favor expanding "trusted traveler" programs that give passes to pre-vetted crossers, digital fingerprinting and other technology to make ports of entry more secure.

Congress hasn't addressed those ideas.

A far-reaching immigration bill passed by the Democratic-led Senate in June calls for an additional 20,000 Border Patrol agents and 700 miles of fencing.

The Republican-controlled House favors tackling immigration with single-issue bills, starting with border security.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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