Communist reconquista Isabel Garcia's buddies going nuts

Group fears escalating border tension: Calls self-proclaimed militia members 'domestic terrorists'


Herald/Review -- 11/24/02

BISBEE -- Saying the American Border Patrol and a self-proclaimed Tombstone militia group are wackos, Guadalupe Castillo said what is more frightening is that they are domestic terrorists.

Castillo, the co-chair of Coalicion de Derechos Humanos, said extreme right-wing groups want war with Mexico as a way to stop the flow of people coming into the United States whose only crime is to seek work.

"They (right-wing groups) are domestic terrorists. They are a bunch of McVeighs. They are wackos," she said to nearly 100 people who attended a meeting sponsored by Citizens for Border Solutions. Timothy McVeigh was a former soldier who was found guilty of and executed for blowing up a federal building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995, killing 168 people.

Castillo and others spoke to nearly 100 people at an event sponsored by the Citizens for Border Solutions, a group dedicated to finding peaceful ways to end the problems along the international boundary.

Groups that are against immigration believe "Mexico is setting up sleeper cells to take back this portion of the United States," she said.

To them, Isabel Garcia, who is the other co-chair of the group Castillo belongs to, "is the queen terrorist of the reconquista," Castillo said. They have even accused Garcia of being a communist, she added.

There is no truth that the idea of Aztlan is to bring back parts of the Southwestern United States under Mexico, she said.

A historian, Castillo said groups such as the American Border Patrol and a militia organization in Tombstone "have no right to talk about the border issue."

Saturday, Glenn Spencer, who is the executive director of the American Border Patrol, said he disagrees.

He said he is stunned that Castillo said he had no right to talk about the border problems. "How can anyone utter such words in the United States of America?"

What is bothering Spencer is a brief that appeared in Saturday's Houston Chronicle.

The brief stated that Mexico's' foreign minister, Jorge Castaneda, said his country would begin a campaign to win U.S. support for a proposal to legalize 3.5 million Mexicans who illegally enter the United States.

Castaneda said Mexican officials will use the nation's consulates to rally unions, churches, universities and Mexican communities to support the idea.

"What's important is that American society sees a possible migratory agreement in a positive light," Castaneda said. "We are already giving instructions to our consulates that they begin propagating militant activities -- if you will -- in their communities," according to the brief in the Texas newspaper.

Spencer said if that is what the Mexican foreign minister is doing, "it is a declaration of war on the United States."

What needs to be done is not chastise groups such as the American Border Patrol, but for people to support it. The best thing for the United States is to have every illegal immigrant rounded up and deported, Spencer added.

It was not only Spencer who came in for a tongue lashing by some of the speakers.

Cochise County Sheriff Larry Dever was taken to task for failing to arrest people who have detained illegal immigrants before turning them over to the U.S. Border Patrol.

Pam Sutherland, the legal director of the Arizona American Civil Liberties Union, said the sheriff and the county prosecutor have filed to protect immigrants.

Saturday, Dever said during a telephone interview, "I'm sorry they feel that way."

Again he said all complaints are investigated and the results are provided to the county attorney and the U.S Attorney for Arizona.

None of the complaints have risen to having criminal charges made, the sheriff said.

Castillo and Sutherland said the American Border Patrol and the militia are probably wearing uniforms that can be mistaken for U.S. Border Patrol outfits and they should be charged for impersonating officers.

Spencer said it is true he was along the border Saturday, but "I wore a pair of Levi's and a plaid shirt, and I don't think the (U.S.) Border Patrol has such a uniform."

Dever said the only time a person can be arrested for impersonating a law officer is if they pretend they are a law officer and attempt to act as one.

"They can dress up in a Border Patrol-like uniform for Halloween. While the Border Patrol may not be happy, unless they are pretending to be an actual agent they are doing nothing illegal," the sheriff said.

Cecile Lumer, who moderated the event for the Citizens for Border Solutions, said the group believes there is a need to change the federal government's activities when it comes to the border.

"I've seen fences replaced by walls and walls replaced by higher walls," she said.

Sutherland said the ACLU is looking for test cases to be used to make the U.S. government stop what they are doing along the border, which she said is a detriment to the well-being of immigrants.

Once a person is in the United States, that individual has the same Constitutional rights as an American citizen, she said.

The ACLU has two cases pending before international groups.

Both were filed in 1999 and no action has been taken on them, Sutherland said.

One was filed with the Organization of American States' Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the other with the United Nations Human Rights Commission.

Both filings stated the U.S. government's actions are harmful to immigrants, including those who illegally cross the border, causing deaths.

As for people who claim they have private property rights, Sutherland said while that is true, those rights cannot be used if it harms migrants.

What has to be recognized is that the real case is the United States is actually letting people enter the country to fill jobs and they fall under the category of invitees, she said.

Dr. Julie Schourup, a public health officer, said much has been made about the drain of illegal immigrants on medical facilities.

However, she said, "I believe the immigrant community is being used as a scapegoat."

Information from Cochise County medical facilities do not indicate what is not being reimbursed for the emergency treatment of immigrants, she said.

Castillo said what has to be accepted by American citizens is that for hundreds of years the United States has allowed immigrants from Mexico to do jobs that had to be done for the economic well-being of the country.

"This is not a recent manifestation," she said. "There is a need in the United States for laborers."

The unrecognized reality is "the U.S. economy cannot float without this labor," Castillo said.

Equally unknown is that the economy of cities such as Tucson depend on Mexican shoppers, she said.

"People from Sonora and Sinaloa do more than $950 million of shopping in Tucson each year," Castillo said. "That is why they (businesses) fly the Mexican flag. They love the peso."

Arizona legislator Bobby Lugo said the United States cannot have it both ways -- good economy and treating immigrants improperly.

Too many have died crossing the border illegally and that is socially unacceptable.

Cochise County Supervisor Paul Newman said the turmoil in rural Arizona, especially in the county, is caused by the lack of good policy by the federal government.

He is concerned that the government will do even more militarizing of the border instead of changing policies that are not working.

"We know what is going on in this neck of the woods," Newman said of the people who live along the border.

Instead of armed vigilantes, as he called them, taking measures into their own hands, what is needed is a Civilian Border Corps to work with all federal, state and local agencies on both sides of the international boundary.

The speakers and many in the audience called for Congress to change current border polices, with Castillo saying a real congressional committee meeting needs to be held in Cochise County and not back in Washington, D.C.

She also called for local governments to step up to the plate and address the issue, demanding an end to vigilantism.

Unfortunately, she said, "Vigilantism is as American as apple pie in this part of the world."

After the meeting ended, Shayna Redwine, a Bisbee High School senior, said there has to be better solutions to the border problem than continuing with failed procedures.

While she does not think illegal immigrants should be allowed into the country, Redwine said she is more concerned that the federal government is causing the deaths of those who cross the border. It is estimated that 2,000 border crossers died along the entire border the United States shares with Mexico during the last year.

She, like many in the audience, is a member of the Youth Advocates, a group of students who seek peaceful solutions to the border woes.

Redwine is opposed to armed civilian groups taking matters into their own hands and does not want to see the border have more armed federal officials on it, either.

The best thing to do is to take some of the billions of dollars being used along the border and send it to Mexico to build up their economy, the student said.

One of the solutions discussed by the group was the creation of a Marshall Plan, like the one that rebuilt nation's after World War II. Some believe the United States needs to be involved in nation building in Mexico and other Central and South American nations.

But the main concern for Redwine is the country directly south of the United States.

"We need to help Mexico, not hinder it," she said.h