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The News
México City, May 7, 2001


The News Staff

Anti-immigrant vigilante groups in Arizona have begun recruitment of armed volunteers for a campaign against border-crossers this fall, government news agency Notimex reported.

"Operation Falcon will begin in the county of Cochise (Arizona) in the fall of 2001," announced extremist group Ranch Rescue. An organization calling itself Concerned Citizens of Cochise is collaborating with Texas-based Ranch Rescue in the effort, as is Roger Barnett, a rancher infamous for armed apprehension of unarmed migrants on or near his property.

"The objective of the effort will be to offer security to the owners of private property located along the border," said the group's announcement.

These efforts will protect the owners against undocumented migrant "criminals, vandals and robbers," the group said.

Operation Falcon is preceded by Operation Raven, a fall 2000 effort to stop border-crossers in Arizona.

Since ranch owners face "the risk of confrontation" with migrants, some armed volunteers will be designated security duty, the group said. Additionally, "all the members of the mission will be able to carry and bear firearms should they so desire."

Though many accuse the ranchers of flagrantly violating the principle of due process, criticism from the U.S. government has been sparse.

The U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) issued a statement in October warning Ranch Rescue of potential risks inherent in its activities, calling the organizations "hate, racists or supremacists." The document singled out the Barnett brothers for their apprehension of thousands of undocumented immigrants. [1]

However, Operation Raven members complained the INS had painted them as extremist, and the INS subsequently recanted.

In an opinion piece published in a Mexico City newspaper on the eve of U.S. President George W. Bush's visit to Mexico in February, U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms, chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, defended the ranchers and their vigilante activities.

"A handful of desperate ranchers have begun to patrol their own property because they feel abandoned and vulnerable," wrote Helms in the Feb. 16 article. "This constitutes 'border violence' for which Mexican leftists think the United States must atone."

Ranch Rescue, which is headed by a former captain in the U.S. army, says it also devotes energy to repairing physical damage done to ranches by immigrants sneaking across the border.

[1] - The INS/DOJ issued a complete retraction. This article fails to mention that minor detail.

(Note: The "immigrants" or "migrants" the Mexicans are referring to in this article are illegal aliens who are sneaking into the United States from Mexico.)

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