In photos: anti-immigration paramilitary group returns to the border with Mexico
TUCSON, Arizona – A couple of years back, a dozen armed members of the Arizona Border Recon set up a temporary camp near the town of Sasabe, less than a mile from the border with Mexico, to watch for undocumented migrants and drug smugglers.
Now, in the wake of the Nov. 8 election, some have returned with their binoculars and cameras. The members of the paramilitary group, including some who served in the U.S. military, said they want to help U.S. officials control the desert border.
They said their objectives are drug traffickers, but added that they will turn over undocumented migrants to U.S. authorities.
ABR operates only in Arizona and has been described as an anti-immigrant organization. Several similar groups have been around for years and identify as “militias.” The Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups, has reported that there are 276 such organizations in the United States.
ABR member Tim Foley told Univision News that he's accustomed to being called racist. “We're not against one race, because people from 78 different countries are crossing the border,” he said. “After whites, Hispanics are the second largest group coming out to help me.”
Foley said he's seen undocumented migrants from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, China and even Somalia trying to cross the border.
The Border Patrol's Tucson Sector, which is aware of the ABR's activity, said it does not endorse private groups or organizations that take border security issues into their own hands.
Intercepting illegal drugs and migrants coming into the United States should be left up to trained law enforcement officers, the Tucson Sector said in a statement.
ABR members who returned to the Sasabe camp after the presidential election said they plan to stay there through the weekend, and then return home for Thanksgiving dinners with their families.