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Border Roundup: Militia group plans Pinal patrol

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Border Roundup: Militia group plans Pinal patrol

SB 1070 still hot topic in national debate

  • J.T. Ready marches in a neo-Nazi parade. Ready plans a militia patrol of Pinal County's Vekol Valley.
    KPNX/Channel 12J.T. Ready marches in a neo-Nazi parade. Ready plans a militia patrol of Pinal County's Vekol Valley.

As has been the case for the past few weeks (if not months), border and immigration news continues to revolve around Arizona's SB 1070.

But shaking things up this weekend is a group of right-wing activists attempting to take border enforcement into their own hands.

The Arizona Daily Star reported that a group calling itself "the Minuteman Project on steroids" plans to meet in the Vekol Valley in Pinal County this weekend.  Organizer J.T. Ready, who some have branded as a neo-Nazi,  encouraged people to bring guns and ammunition to the meeting, in a planned "show of force and solidarity of concerned patriots."

Ready has a history of armed confrontations, reported Heat City

When he was running for Mesa City Council in 2006 — a race in which he came in second place — he followed a vehicle down a dead-end street and cornered a Hispanic man who later turned out to be an illegal immigrant.

Ready said the man opened fire on him with a BB gun, and he returned fire with a .38 revolver he pulled from an ankle holster.

Both escaped injury and police arrested the other man that night. A month later, the man pleaded guilty to giving a false name to authorities.

He said in an interview with KPNX (Phoenix's Channel 12) that his group will stake out a route that drug smugglers use to bring "chemical warfare into Phoenix - that's what we consider these drugs, particularly methamphetamines." (see videos below)

Law enforcement isn't too happy with Ready's plan. "We're worried about their safety, we're worried about impingement on operations that are already in place," said Deputy Steve Henry of the Pinal County Sheriff's Office.

"We do defend ourselves completely. we have the artillery and the hardware to make sure that happens," Ready told KPNX.

Ready appeared at the May 29 "Stand with Arizona" rally in Tempe, handing out fliers for the National Socialist Movement, a neo-Nazi organization.

SB 1070 & other laws

The Arizona Daily Star reported that Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio plans to launch a "crime and immigration sweep" on July 30, the day after SB 1070 goes into effect.  Such enforcement may be difficult, according to a report presented to the Arizona Prosecuting Attorneys' Advisory Council, said the Arizona Republic:

The pertinent section of the U.S. Code was passed in 1940, just before World War II, to monitor certain foreign nationals who were in the country legally but were suspected of sedition. Few, if any, cases have been brought under the law in many years. That law requires immigrants to register if they are in the country for more than 30 days and are older than 14. Under current conditions, however, no one who entered illegally could possibly register. 

"If they didn't go through the actual border crossing, and there's no proof of when they came through, how do I show how long they've been here?" asked John Pombier, a prosecutor in Mesa.

The Republic also reported that supporters of SB 1070 have donated nearly $20,000 to be used to fund a legal defense of the law. 

While the debate on how to control illegal immigration continues, some are trying to deny citizenship to "anchor babies" born in the United States. explained the thinking behind state Senator Russell Pearce's attempt to deny citizenship to babies whose parents are both illegal immigrants:

Citizenship is granted to children born in the U.S. – even to illegal immigrants, according to the Constitution. But Pearce told Time Magazine that the 14th Amendment has been "hijacked" by illegal immigrants.

"They use it as a wedge," he said. "This is an orchestrated effort by them to come here and have children to gain access to the great welfare state we've created."

The Center for Public Integrity warned that the new e-Passport system may be vulnerable to terrorist attack because a factory that made a key component of the system was located in unstable Thailand, reported

In national immigration news, the Los Angeles Times reported that the ACLU of Southern California sued the federal government for denying a Muslim man's citizenship application:

"Tarek Hamdi is like dozens of other upstanding individuals from Muslim countries who meet all the requirements for citizenship but are turned away because of a constellation of discriminatory practices," said Jennie Pasquarella, an ACLU staff attorney representing Hamdi in his lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement."

It probably hasn't helped Hamdi's case that he shares a surname with Yaser Esam Hamdi, a U.S. citizen who was captured in Afghanistan, allegedly fighting for the Taliban. Hamdi's appeal of his indefinite detention as an "enemy combatant" without trial went to the Supreme Court, which granted his habeas corpus appeal in 2004.

The Washington Post reported that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against automatic deportation for immigrants with minor drug charges:

"Manuel Vargas, senior counsel for the Immigrant Defense Project, said that would mean immigrants could ask a judge to consider factors such as their length of time in the United States, military service, and family and community ties. Illegal immigrants would still face virtually automatic deportation, he said." 

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told an Ecuadorian television station that President Obama was going to file a lawsuit against SB 1070. The Obama administration has not confirmed that the federal government will file such a lawsuit, reported

Moving south

While most news coverage this past week dealt with people moving north from Mexico to the United States, there was also something flowing in the opposite direction. El Universal, a newspaper in Mexico City, reported that the United Nations estimated that 20,000 guns enter Mexico from the United States each year:

Around 20,000 fire arms illegally pass every year from the United States to Mexico, asserts the report "The Globalization of Crime," released yesterday by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

The arms, which are usually transported across the border between the U.S. and Mexico by individual smugglers in limited quantities, have a value that is calculated at $20 million.

Are border security and immigration reform two sides of the same coin or are they separate issues? That seems to be the dilemma in the national immigration debate, reported the Los Angeles Times:

[Homeland Security Secretary] Napolitano, in an interview, expressed frustration about the Republicans' singular focus on border security. "Their position has evolved to be, 'We don't even want to talk about immigration reform unless you secure — read: seal — the border,' " she said. "And the definition of what securing the border means keeps changing, and that then becomes a reason not to address the real underlying issue, which is immigration reform."

Even as the immigration debate heats up in the United States, the plight of immigrants in Mexico is drawing criticism. A report by Mexico's National Commission on Human Rights condemned Mexico's treatment of immigrants, reported the Washington Post:

"We have a government in Mexico that emphatically criticizes the new immigration law - which is perfectly valid, to criticize a law with widespread consequences - but at the same time doesn't have the desire to address the same problem within its own borders," said Alberto Herrera, executive director of Amnesty International in Mexico.

"The violations in human rights that migrants from Central America face in Mexico are far worse than Mexicans receive in the United States," said Jorge Bustamante of the University of Notre Dame and the College of the Border in Tijuana, who has reported on immigration in Mexico for the United Nations.

Curtis Prendergast also writes for The Sonoran Chronicle.

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