Saturday, October 06, 2012

Are Illegal Immigrants Being Assassinated on the Arizona Border with Mexico?

The Southern Poverty Law Center has published an article titled "Investigating Deaths of Undocumented Immigrants on the Border" (Fall 2012). It is possible that some extremist militia units may be murdering illegal immigrants in Arizona near the border with Mexico. The article includes some information about a failed proposal to create a civilian volunteer militia to police the border. There are legitimate concerns that this state-funded civilian militia could include people who belong to racist, anti-immigrant, and even NAZI militia movements.

TPMMuckraker (5-4-12) reports:

Neo-Nazi and border vigilante JT Ready, who authorities said carried out a mass murder-suicide near Phoenix this week, was the target of a federal domestic terrorism investigation at the time of the incident, the head of the FBI’s Phoenix office revealed late Friday.

James Turgal, the special agent in charge of the FBI in Phoenix, told an Arizona television station the probe had been active less than five years and that investigators were looking into whether Ready was involved in a series of shootings of immigrants in the desert there.
“It’s a criminal domestic terrorism investigation,” Turgal told reporter Brahm Resnik of television station KPNX, “and we define that as individuals or oganizations who are engaging or conspiring to engage in criminal activity in order to affect either social or political change.”
A shooting in the desert near Eloy where officials say camouflaged gunmen opened fire on a group of illegal immigrants has left authorities to investigate whether the attack that left two dead was the work of vigilantes or border bandits.

The men who were killed Sunday were part of a group of 20 to 30 illegal immigrants crammed in a full-sized pickup truck driving in a wash in the remote desert outside of Eloy. Investigators have no suspects in custody and they don't yet know who is responsible, Pima County sheriff's Deputy Dawn Barkman said Thursday.

The Southern Poverty Law Center article observes:

Recently, the Arizona Daily Star reported an apparent resurgence in border activities by groups led by men like Jack Foote, a Texan who once headed a paramilitary anti-immigrant group called Ranch Rescue (and who reportedly recruited Tim Foley, the man who told officials in 2011 he had sniper experience). Foote’s Ranch Rescue disbanded following a 2003 lawsuit filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center on behalf of immigrants terrorized on a Texas ranch. But the Daily Star reported that Foote recently returned to the Arizona border with a new group, the Arizona State Defense Force Foundation. The group is recruiting “field researchers” with “prior Tactical Ground Operations training and experience” to scout the border for “evidence of the ongoing cross-border insurgency.”
Are some individuals or even groups in Arizona targeting immigrants for death? It remains impossible to say. But it’s hard not to think about the kind of anger that came from Jack Foote recently, after the state Legislature rejected the Arizona Special Missions Unit, a newly proposed state-sanctioned border militia.

“We have now washed our hands of our state’s Legislature,” Foote said in words that worried many. “Now we are going to do things our own way.”

The Arizona Star article the SPLC probably refers to is titled "Militias in Arizona Thrive Despite Lack of Authorizing Law" (5-27-2012).


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