zOct. 24, 02: http://www.thenewsmexico.com/noticia.asp?id=38248


Ariz. Groups Call for Border Probe

The Associated Press Wednesday, October 23, 2002; 7:39 AM

TUCSON, Ariz. ­­ Human rights advocates are calling for a federal investigation into the fatal shooting of two immigrants and a vigilante group's seizure of drugs near the U.S.-Mexican border.

The advocates, including members of a group called Coalicion de Derechos Humanos, said the two separate incidents resulted from misguided federal immigration policies.

"The murder of two migrants is not an isolated incident," said the Rev. John Fife, a Tucson pastor. "It is the culmination of a history of dehumanization and racism and militarism on this border that has gone on for a long time. Too long."

Two men were killed Oct. 16 when two suspected immigrant smugglers drove up and opened fire on a group of illegal border crossers near Red Rock, about 35 miles northwest of Tucson.

Investigators believe the survivors ­ except one who escaped ­ were forced to get into the smugglers' vehicle and leave with them.

Also, on Oct. 15 and Oct. 16, members of an armed citizens patrol called Ranch Rescue seized about 280 pounds of marijuana from smugglers crossing a private ranch.

A U.S. Border Patrol spokesman declined to comment, and calls to the Mexican Consulate and the Pinal County Sheriff's Department, which investigated the homicides, were not returned.

Isabel Garcia, co-chairwoman of Derechos Humanos, said she doubted the vigilante groups have jurisdiction to do what they're doing. She said law enforcement agencies are better suited to safeguarding the public.

Former Pima County Supervisor Raul Grijalva, now running for Congress, also took part in the protest, asking federal authorities to investigate.

"This is very scary," said Jose Matus, director of Derechos Humanos. "We're fearful of people thinking they can pick up guns and shoot at anyone who looks Mexican.