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Border Patrol
Vigilantes and Murderers

Borderline banditry

Last week in the Daily Journal I referred to the new Anti-Defamation league report that points to a resurgence in Ku Klux Klan membership. The reason: anti-immigration rabidity is a great recruiting card. The Minuteman Project is the most prominent of that new breed of vigilante groups that now “patrol” the U.S.-Mexico border (and are establishing little branches around the country) to prevent uncodumented people from crossing over. They call their bigoted hunts a service to the nation. They say they’re not violent. They say they follow the law. Their mere existence, of course, is an act of violence, of intimidation. Their existence also creates a climate of fear, and the longer actual police and Border Patrol allow them to exist (as they certainly and encouragingly do, even if not officially) the more likely the acts of violence. Case in point. This from the Associated Press by way of the Houston Chronicle:

Gunmen stopped a pickup full of illegal immigrants, shot some and took the rest captive [February 8] in an attack that left at least three men dead and two people wounded, authorities said. Authorities were trying to determine who the gunmen were and said some of the immigrants remained missing. The men shot three people, one fatally, along a known smuggling corridor near Tucson, then forced several other immigrants in the group to leave with them, Pima County sheriff's officials said. The bodies of two of those immigrants were found about 10 miles north in the truck that had been carrying the group.

The stories, including the one that ran in the Times the following day, focused on the criminal aspect of the incident. Extortion. Robbery. Bandits. Those are the words used. But if the border is being so judiciously patrolled by vigilantes, the case just as clearly proves to what extent that claim by vigilantes that they’re there to protect the border falls flat on its occasionally murderous face. When individuals are in trouble, be they illegal or not, it’s anyone’s responsibility, “patrolling” volunteers especially, to assist. Certainly, there can’t possibly border guards or vigilantes at every mile. But to posit that the attackers were “bandits” leaves the most essential question unanswered: what if they were the same vigilantes who know the lay of the land and claim to be protecting it—and are now implicitly enjoying the protection of both the Border Patrol and the local police? To the police and the Border Patrol, illegal immigrants are today’s niggers: deserving of no rights, no protection, no recognition as human beings so long as the Border Patrol and the local authorities can get away with it. And the less murders like last week’s are investigated as equally and vigilantly as if a white landowner and his family were killed, the more encouraged vigilante groups will be, and “bandits” will be, to go after illegal immigrants like they were an afternoon’s prey.

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