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Tide changing in Arizona’s immigration politics (access required)

(From left) Former Sen. Russell Pearce, Rep. Steve Smith, Sen. Al Melvin, Rep. Ruben Gallego, President Barack Obama (File photos)

At the recent Republican statewide meeting in a north central Phoenix church, pews were packed with party loyalists listening to elected officials speak about issues facing the state and the nation.

But the topic that would have dominated the conversation in past years — illegal immigration — was scarcely mentioned.

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Ranchers split over US border security plan

In this Friday, Aug. 10, 2012 photo, rancher Dan Bell checks out part of the property he leases at the border fence between the United States and Mexico, in Nogales, Ariz. When Bell drives through the property, he speaks of the hurdles that the Border Patrol faces in his rolling green hills of oak and mesquite trees: The hours it takes to drive to some places, the wilderness areas that are generally off-limits to motorized vehicles, and the environmental reviews required to extend a dirt road. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

When Dan Bell drives through his 35,000-acre cattle ranch, he speaks of the hurdles that the Border Patrol faces in his rolling green hills of oak and mesquite trees — the hours it takes to drive to some places, the wilderness areas that are generally off-limits to motorized vehicles, the environmental reviews required to extend a dirt road.

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