June 1, 2017
~~~ /// ~~~ WPRI -- May 24, 2017
An inside look at a controversial civilian group patrolling Mexican border
Nogales, Arizona -- Ever since President Donald Trump kicked off his campaign for the Oval Office, a big topic of discussion has been whether or not there's a need for a border well.
While the debate in Washington rages on, members of the organization The III% United Patriots are taking action. Every year, men and women in the group travel hundreds of miles to volunteer to patrol the border. They say their goal is to try to stop the flow of drugs and people entering the United States illegally.
This year, their mission took them to the Coronado National Forest, just outside the border city of Nogales, Arizona.
A member of the group who goes by the name “Big Bird” explained, “I wanted to meet the rest of the national leaguers. I'm a state leader [in the group] and so I wanted to meet in person the rest of the guys and do my part.”
The group is not sanctioned by any law enforcement agency and members have no authority to make any arrests, but they do run the risk of interacting with the Mexican drug cartels, so each member uses a call sign for safety.
“What we do down here is not vigilante justice, we have no special privileges,” a member who goes by the name “.50 Cal” said. “Our job is to observe. Our job is to collect as much information as we can. Our job is to track these folks, get a location, get it to the Border Patrol and let the Border Patrol handle the arrest.”
Opponents believe a wall is just a waste of money.
“When you have people that are that determined to come over, because of the poverty, the persecution, the drugs, the corruption, the gangs, that there's no hope at all, do you think a wall is going to stop them?” asked Tony Estrada, sheriff of Santa Cruz County in Nogales.
“A wall is not going to stop them. It's just going to be another obstacle and it may be the easiest obstacle that they have to face and they will conquer it,” said Estrada.
Congressman Joe Kennedy, a Democrat who represents Southeastern Massachusetts, said he agrees that a border wall is not the answer.
“It is the most expensive and least effective way to secure our border,” Kennedy said. He believes that a lot of today's immigration problems could have been dealt with four years ago. [...]
Kennedy said he believes investing in additional resources, like technology, would be much more effective. [...]
RI delegation argues wall money could be better spent
Rhode Island's all-Democratic congressional delegation agreed with Kennedy's stance against the border wall.
“I have long said that maintaining control of our borders is an essential part of our national security, but President Trump's claims about a porous southern border oversimplify the challenges we face in our immigration policy,” said Congressman Jim Langevin.
“Relying on a wall to keep out undocumented immigrants is inefficient and ineffective, which is why Congress has consistently focused on using sensors and other high-tech solutions to help monitor the border,” said Langevin.