Sunday, January 12, 2003
U.S. Border Crossings Spark Civilian Patrols:
Skip past the dreadful dark-and-stormy-night lede...eventually...
In this dusty, open desert country once haunted by cowboys and outlaws, armed civilian border patrol groups who scare off border crossers or, in some cases, hold them at gunpoint, are becoming an increasing presence.
The groups, such as Ranch Rescue and the American Border Patrol, say their purpose is to plug the holes in southern Arizona's porous border, protect citizens and expose the federal government's failure to protect the United States from drug- and people- smuggling. To critics, these angry patrols are a greater risk to society than poor migrants risking their lives for low-paying jobs in the United States.
I think this tests the limits of Glenn Reynolds' "A Pack, Not a Herd" philosophy, which I endorse. Basically it means citizens can organize themselves to act more quickly and effectively to defend the entire nation, recover from natural disasters, etc., especially immediately after the fact--his most riveting example is the still under-covered boatlift that proved crucial in the immediate aftermath of the World Trade Center attack. But this is a tough one. The U.S. government has it coming--the Administration refuses to acknowledge there's a serious problem at the border, and citizens are getting fed up with lawlesslessness, and with their property being invaded and trashed. But there are indeed crazy white militant groups who would just love to shoot up a few Mexicans, and I hope the people described in this story are telling those guys to stay the hell out.
Note: A few more InstaLinks here, including a mention about vigilantism.
Update: Looks like Reynolds credits Jim Henley with the pack/herd coinage, though this link is to something during the Washington sniper case, in late October, and I thought Reynolds had used the phrase before. No matter. I'll stipulate both are great.