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Arizona border vigilantes keep migrants out

Some call them "vigilantes", others call them a "hate group", but they don't care. When Donald Trump made limiting immigration from Mexico a key issue of his presidential campaign, a group of men in Arizona responded to the call and set up an unofficial, but heavily armed, border militia.

Published: October 26, 2016, 12:31 pm

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    Arizona

    Since the Brexit vote, the rag tag army of sorts has had more than a dozen enquiries from men in the UK – from Manchester, Wigan, Brentwood and London – asking to join the group. They say they do not want America “going to the dogs with immigration” and so they say they want to help “before it is too late”.

    “It’s criminal to see a country give up on its borders, and people like us are not prepared to sit back and let it happen.”

    On the thin line that divides Mexico from America, according to Trump, illegal Mexican immigrants were: “Bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.” Which is why Trump is planning to build a 12m wall along the entire 3200km border.

    But until then the Arizona Border Recon will carry on mounting patrols in one small section near the town of Sasabe. They have a mission, vowing to: stop illegal immigration, stop drug smuggling; stop human trafficking.

    “Since Trump starting talking about a wall, we have seen the smugglers bringing groups of up to 24 people across at a time. Before, it was no more than eight,” one of the men says.

    The leader told the British daily Mirror: “If a company is not working properly people get fired, Trump will do that. Clinton will just keep the status quo.”

    “For too long America has been run by liberals and it is sending us to the dogs. Trump says what he thinks. Either get up, grow up or f*** off, and he doesn’t care what people say about him. He speaks his mind and that is why he is so popular. At the minute Washington are happy to see $1billion wasted each month on a border control that sees hundreds crossing each week. It simply is not good enough. They are patrolling our borders all wrong.”

    The lack of faith in the official border controls, drove the group to action. Dressed in army fatigues and carrying an arsenal of weapons, they may be mistaken for regular soldiers, but all of them are civilians, among them doctors and plumbers.

    They have no legal power to stop migrants attempting to cross into the US, but that does not stop them. Operating from their desert camp, they catch illegal migrants and hand them over to the authorities.

    Cheap migrant Mexican labour is causing job losses in the US, which is why Trump’s promise to close the border is so popular here.

    Trump is tapping into growing resentment towards foreign labour, many are convinced undocumented migrants who are prepared to work for low wages are costing Americans their jobs.

    The team is also on the frontline in the fight to stop Islamic State, saying jihadis are making it into the US from Mexico, as earlier this year five men from Pakistan and one from Afghanistan were captured near the border in Arizona.

    The Tucson Border Patrol has said almost 80% of those picked up around the border last year were from countries other than Mexico.

    They complain about huge amounts of narcotics entering the country too: “One trail alone is seeing $500,000 worth of drugs and people smuggling and yet the authorities do nothing.

    Trump has promised better vetting for all Muslims wanting to enter the US and aims to deport 11 million illegal immigrants, while Hillary Clinton has vowed to help resettle refugees from places such as war-torn Syria while pledging to introduce major immigration reform.

    Many believe the real number of illegal immigrants living in the US is closer to 30 million than the official estimate of 11 million.

    karin@praag.org

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