News and views from the award-winning author of the Class H Trilogy: AMERICA LIBRE, HOUSE DIVIDED and PANCHO LAND

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Arizona contemplates citizen posses patrolling the border


"The border crossers were traveling in a pickup truck in a wash that is commonly used for human smuggling. They were ambushed by an unknown number of subjects in camouflage clothing armed with rifles. Shots were fired at the pickup truck at which time two subjects were fatally struck." 

As the Arizona legislature considers SB 1083, a new law that would post armed civilians with five days training on patrol along its border with Mexico, an incident that left two dead in Pima County on April 8th brings the wisdom of such a law into question.

According to its sponsor, Republican State Senator Sylvia Allen, SB 1083 will establish a Special Missions Unit (SMU) for "securing the safety and protection of the lives and property of the citizens of this state." In reality, what this legislation will mean is posses with guns and very little training roaming the desert looking to "enforce the law."

That could well be what happened at approximately 10:35 pm on April 8 when the Pima County Sheriffs Office reported border crossers in a pickup truck "were ambushed by an unknown number of subjects in camouflage clothing armed with rifles. Shots were fired at the pickup truck at which time two subjects were fatally struck." Authorities found one body in the bed of the pickup and the other in a dry riverbed near the truck. Agents from the Casa Grande Border Patrol Station apprehended five unarmed border crossers hiding in the brush nearby.

Which brings us back to SB 1083. Who would volunteer for this kind of duty? I'm sure Senator Allen envisions only upstanding citizens will respond to the call. But let's get real. Most citizens will do everything possible to avoid jury duty. Who is going to volunteer to risk life and limb in the desert? I think we all know the answer to that.

Someone like George Zimmerman, the vigilante shooter of Trayvon Martin, comes to mind. Or perhaps another Shawna Forde, the former Minutemen volunteer who was sentenced to death for the murders of a 9-year-old Arivaca, Ariz., girl and her father in a home invasion she orchestrated to rob the family. It's naive at best to deny someone of this ilk will not be among those who volunteer to serve on these posses.

Lest anyone have doubts about the level of irrational hate toward the undocumented that exists in some circles, here is an excerpt from nativist website SendEmBack.org...

A "shoot to kill on sight" policy should be established for illegal border crossers. This should be done without regard to race, gender, sexual orientation, age, religion, national origin, or citizenship status. -- Donald E. Pauly

In fairness, the men in the camouflage clothing in the April 8 Pima County killings could have been a rival smuggling ring looking to eliminate its competition. Even so, putting armed civilians with very little training and questionable motives into this environment is like trying to put out a fire with gasoline. But to some lawmakers in the toxic nativist atmosphere of Arizona politics, SB 1083 seems like a sensible solution.

Raul Ramos y Sanchez



A rare insight into one of the most disturbing trends of our times



As I read MURDERS MOST FOUL, the relevance of Rebecca Coffey’s book became painfully clear. Seven people were killed and three more wounded at Oikos University by student One L. Goh, the latest tragedy in a baffling series of U.S. school killings that began in 1927.  In MURDERS MOST FOUL, Coffey plumbs that disturbing history, an exploration that suggests the trend may continue.

These widely publicized tragedies have provided many with a soapbox for their views.  MURDERS MOST FOUL avoids that temptation. Instead, Coffey scours away the sensationalism and presents us with unvarnished portraits of those who have committed some of history’s most merciless crimes, often with methodical premeditation. In prose compelling by its stark focus, Coffey avoids facile polemics and challenges us to reach our own conclusions, something which may leave some readers unsatisfied. For me, the lack of sermonizing was a sign of respect to the reader’s intelligence. In all, I found  MURDERS MOST FOUL a rare insight into one of the most disturbing trends of our times.


Raul Ramos y Sanchez