Jamila Paksima: This is the coolest part of the day, which is why we have to leave early in the morning before it gets super hot.
Yvonne Latty: In some ways, water is like gold, you know. You can live without food for a long time, but you can’t really go more than a few days without water.
Jamila Paksima: People have fought over water for centuries, eons. But who knew that just a little bit of water not to die would be so difficult and controversial.
Yvonne Latty: Some people believe giving the migrants water is God’s work, and other people believe taking the water away from the migrants is God’s work.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: THIS IS SEASON THREE OF SOUNDS LIKE HATE, A PODCAST SERIES FROM THE SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER. I’M JAMILA PAKSIMA.
YVONNE LATTY: AND I’M YVONNE LATTY.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: THIS SEASON, WE ARE EXAMINING THE RIGHTS AND LIVES OF INDIVIDUALS WHO TOO OFTEN HAVE DIFFICULTY BEING ACCEPTED FOR WHO THEY ARE. PEOPLE WHO STILL, DESPITE DECADES OF CIVIL RIGHTS BATTLES AND TRIUMPHS, ARE FORCED TO CONTINUE TO DEMAND EQUAL RIGHTS AND, IN THE CASE OF MIGRANTS, PROTECTIONS AFFORDED UNDER THE LAW.
YVONNE LATTY: IN THIS SEASON, WE TRAVEL TO ARIZONA, FLORIDA, GEORGIA, AND PENNSYLVANIA. WE WILL MEET FOLKS WHO SAY MODERN-DAY LAWS AND POLICIES CONTINUE TO HOLD THEM DOWN FROM LIVING A LIFE OF FULL POTENTIAL.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: FOR SOME PEOPLE, DISCRIMINATION AND HATE IS EXPERIENCED IN OVERT ACTIONS. OTHER TIMES, OPPRESSION IS SUBVERSIVE AND DESTRUCTIVE. THESE ARE THE STORIES WE’VE BEEN INVESTIGATING ABOUT INDIVIDUALS FIGHTING FOR EACH OTHER’S RIGHTS.
YVONNE LATTY: IN PART 1 OF THE UNWELCOME, WE ARE ON THE ARIZONA BORDER. MIGRANTS ARE CROSSING THE SOUTHERN BORDER IN RECORD NUMBERS. SO FAR IN 2021, OVER 1.5 MILLION MIGRANTS WERE DETAINED WITH REPORTS OF MANY ATTEMPTING TO CROSS THE BORDER THREE TO FOUR TIMES IN A SINGLE MONTH.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: BUT IT’S NOT JUST THE HARSH CONDITIONS OF THE DESERT OR BORDER PATROL MIGRANTS NEED TO FEAR. MILITIA GROUPS LED BY FATIGUE-CLAD INDIVIDUALS, MANY OF THEM EX-MILITARY OR EX-POLICE, ROAM THE DESERT SEARCHING FOR MIGRANTS TO CAPTURE. THEY USE SOCIAL MEDIA TO BRAG ABOUT THEIR ADVENTURES TRACKING MIGRANTS. THEY USE PROPAGANDA OFTEN USED BY ANTI-IMMIGRANT GROUPS AND CONSPIRACY THEORISTS TO WARN VIEWERS OF WHAT THEY CALL THE DANGEROUS MIGRANTS WHO THEY SAY WORK FOR DRUG CARTELS AND CLAIM THEY ARE TRYING TO STOP HUMAN TRAFFICKING.
Michael Lewis Arthur Meyer: And patriots are going to be down here still rescuing children, assisting border patrol, intercepting pedophiles, fighting for a nation who doesn’t deserve the sacrifice that’s being made out here, but not doing it for the nation.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: THAT’S MICHAEL LEWIS ARTHUR MEYER. HE LEADS VOP, OR VETERANS ON PATROL, ONE OF THE FAR-RIGHT MILITIA GROUPS THAT NOT ONLY TARGETS MIGRANTS BUT ALSO HARASSES HUMANITARIAN ORGANIZATIONS WHICH GIVE WATER AND AID TO PEOPLE CROSSING THE BORDER. A WARNING TO OUR LISTENERS: THE CLAIMS MADE BY MEYER IN OUR REPORT ARE DISTURBING, VIOLENT, UNSUBSTANTIATED AND OFTEN BASED ON EXISTING CONSPIRACY THEORIES CIRCULATING IN THE UNITED STATES. VOP IS NOT SANCTIONED BY THE U.S. GOVERNMENT, AND THEY SEEM TO FOLLOW THEIR OWN RULES AND LAWS IN THE DESERT.
Michael Lewis Arthur Meyer: And our own government, or Arizona Republicans and Democrats, are running cartel water stations behind the checkpoint to help anyone who wants to fill up their black jugs and make it around this checkpoint with the bag full of fentanyl, with the unaccompanied child, with the female sex-traffic victim, with the cheap labor, with whatever it is.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: FREDDY CRUZ, A RESEARCH ANALYST WITH THE SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER, TRACKS ANTI-GOVERNMENT GROUPS, WHICH INCLUDE PARAMILITARY MILITIAS LIKE VETERANS ON PATROL, WHO SEEK VIGILANTE JUSTICE.
Freddy Cruz: Some of the folks in the anti-government circle referred to him as “screwy Louie.” He’s an individual we’ve been tracking for at least three years now who sort of made his mark early on in 2018 with this idea that he had identified supposed child sex camps. And he has a small group of loyal followers who essentially live out in the desert in Pima County with this idea that they will be intercepting and stopping cartel smugglers and drug traffickers.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: SINCE THE ELECTION OF DONALD TRUMP, THE NUMBER OF ORGANIZED GROUPS OPERATING INDEPENDENT PARAMILITARY FORCES HAS GROWN. THEY ARE OFTEN LABELED AS EITHER MILITIA OR ANTI-GOVERNMENT GROUPS. IN 2020, THE SPLC TRACKED 566 EXTREME ANTI-GOVERNMENT GROUPS. NOWHERE ARE THEY MORE VISIBLE THAN ON THE U.S./MEXICO BORDER.
Freddy Cruz: During the past year, Arizona became a hotspot for right wing extremism.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: THE MILITIA MEMBERS IN SOME CASES ARM THEMSELVES WITH GUNS, SCOPES AND MOTION-ACTIVATED VIDEO CAMERAS, TO STALK MIGRANTS IN THE SCORCHING HOT DESERT. THEY DESTROY THEIR WATER SOURCES BECAUSE, THEY SAY, IT’S THE PATRIOTIC THING TO DO. HERE CRUZ IS TALKING ABOUT HUMANE BORDERS, ONE OF THE HUMANITARIAN GROUPS MEYER TARGETS.
Freddy Cruz: These water tanks are easily recognizable, they’re large blue tanks. Meyer’s mission for the past, I would say, two years, it varies from either just dumping the water to, you know, damaging the water tanks and a lot of the sort of rap sheet that he has comes from vandalizing these water stations and in some cases trespassing to vandalize these water stations. In his view, Humane Borders has been aiding the cartels by giving them water.
Michael Lewis Arthur Meyer: Not today.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: CRUZ SAYS THERE IS NO EVIDENCE OF THIS, BUT MEYER CONTINUES TO USE SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS TO SPREAD THIS FALSE MESSAGE.
Freddy Cruz: Typically, the type of content that’s being uploaded to platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Telegram, it’s typically videos and pictures showing Meyer and other members of his group stopping, interrogating, in some cases they filmed themselves rummaging through the belongings of migrants with this idea that they’re essentially doing Border Patrol’s job.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: I ASK CRUZ IF BORDER PATROL NEEDS THEIR HELP.
Freddy Cruz: Border Patrol does not need their help. Vigilante activity has been present on the border for decades now. Border Patrol has repeatedly stated citizens are not needed.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: JOHN MENNELL OF BORDER PATROL PUBLIC AFFAIRS DECLINED AN INTERVIEW BUT GAVE US THIS STATEMENT:
“CBP does not endorse or support any private group or organization from taking matters into their own hands. Furthermore, forced detention can also be viewed as a criminal offense.”
JAMILA PAKSIMA: BUT IN VIDEOS REVIEWED BY OUR TEAM, THERE ARE SEVERAL INSTANCES OF MEYER AND OTHER MILITIA GROUPS INTERACTING WITH BORDER PATROL OFFICERS, AND IN SOME CASES, IT SEEMS THEY ARE WORKING TOGETHER.
Michael Lewis Arthur Meyer: Now I talked to literally hundreds of Border Patrol agents. I’m out here all the time in this desert every day, living and sleeping in the desert.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: MEYER IS EMBLEMATIC OF A LARGER PROBLEM. FROM THE DOZENS OF VIDEOS HE AND OTHERS LIKE HIM POST OF THEIR UNAUTHORIZED ACTIVITIES IN THE DESERT, IT APPEARS HE OPERATES WITH IMPUNITY.
Freddy Cruz: There’s a question of what exactly Border Patrol’s role has been in this, because in at least one instance, we do know that a Border Patrol agent met with Meyer and two other members of VOP. And the agent was not aware that Meyer was filming the interaction. Meyer claims that he was there to hand drone footage to this agent. And at the end of that interaction, Meyer claimed that he already had the agent’s cellphone number. Border Patrol has been aware of the group for some time and a few other of the militias have been intercepting people and handing them over to agents who will respond to the calls from VOP to collect the migrants. But it doesn’t appear anything has been done when it comes to discouraging or essentially trying to get them out of the desert.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: MEYER CLAIMS HE IS DOING GOD’S WORK. HE OPERATES AS THOUGH HE HAS THE AUTHORITY TO CONFISCATE THE MEAGER PERSONAL BELONGINGS OF THESE DESERT TRAVELERS. HIS APPEARANCE AND ACTIONS RESEMBLE AN OFFICER OF THE LAW.
HERE IN THIS MAY 22, 2021, VIDEO, HE IS RECORDING THE CONTENT OF THE PERSONAL PHONES HE HAS COMMANDEERED, WHICH INCLUDE PHOTOGRAPHS AND VIDEOS OF BABIES, FAMILIES AND WHAT APPEARS TO BE PERSONAL IMAGES MIGRANTS HOLD DEAR.
Michael Lewis Arthur Meyer: I’m trying to get what I can recorded before turning the phone over to Border Patrol intelligence. We saw this before where they’ve done the side-by-side. Look, there’s the child again.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: HE THEN USES THE MIGRANT’S IMAGES TO CLAIM HE HAS PROOF OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING BEFORE HANDING THE MIGRANTS OFF TO BORDER PATROL.
Freddy Cruz: You can’t just go around collecting things or taking cellphones from people, stopping people.
Jamila Paksima: OK.
Yvonne Latty: So, it’ll be on the left side of the street.
Jamila Paksima: OK.
Yvonne Latty: So, it’ll be coming up.
YVONNE LATTY: JAMILA AND I ARE WEAVING DOWN A MOUNTAIN ROAD INTO A RESIDENTIAL SECTION OF TUCSON, WHERE MODEST ONE-STORY, DESERT COLORED HOMES DOT THE LANDSCAPE. TUCSON IS JUST ABOUT AN HOUR FROM THE ARIZONA/MEXICO BORDER. WE ARE HEADING TO HUMANE BORDERS, WHOSE ONLY GOAL IS TO GIVE MIGRANTS LIFE-SUSTAINING WATER. THIS GROUP IS A FREQUENT TARGET OF MEYER.
Yvonne Latty & Jamila Paksima: Doug?
Yvonne Latty: Hey, Doug.
Jamila Paksima: Hi. We’ll just park. We’ll be right there.
YVONNE LATTY: DOUG RUOPP IS A MIDDLE-AGED MAN, A RETIRED ELEMENTARY SCHOOL TEACHER WITH GRAY HAIR POKING OUT OF A BLUE HUMANE BORDERS CAP. THE CAP COLOR MATCHES THE 55-GALLON BARRELS THAT SIT IN THEIR COURTYARD, READY TO BE FILLED WITH WATER AND DRIVEN OUT TO THE DESERT IN PICKUP TRUCKS. EACH BARREL HAS A STICKER OF THE VIRGIN OF GUADALUPE, OR IN SPANISH, LA VIRGEN DE GUADALUPE, THE PATRON SAINT OF MEXICO WHO IS SEEN AS A CHAMPION OF THE UNDERDOG, THE ULTIMATE MEXICAN MOTHER, A PROTECTOR, AND HER IMAGE IS WHAT TELLS THE MIGRANTS THE WATER IS SAFE TO DRINK.
Doug Ruopp: Neither hunger nor thirst, nor will the desert heat or sun beat upon them. He who has compassion on them, will guide them and lead them beside springs of water, Isaiah 49:10. There are at least 80, at least 80, passages in the Bible that speak about taking care of strangers.
YVONNE LATTY: THE BIBLE PASSAGE IS ON A SIGN THAT OVERLOOKS THE COURTYARD AND THE BARRELS. DOUG IS THE CHAIR OF HUMANE BORDERS. HE STARTED WORKING WITH THE INTERFAITH NONPROFIT 20 YEARS AGO.
Doug Ruopp: I started keeping the trucks up and running, kinds of things to do that I could make up as I went along.
YVONNE LATTY: HUMANE BORDERS’ OFFICE LOOKS LIKE A PLACE WHERE LOTS OF WORK GETS DONE. THERE IS A LARGE MESSY TABLE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROOM FILLED WITH PAPERWORK, ROUTES AND MAPS. THEY HAVE WATER DROPS IN 45 DIFFERENT LOCATIONS IN THE DESERT.
Yvonne Latty: Why water and not trail mix?
Doug Ruopp: Well, water is the No. 1 need people have when they’re in the desert. In the winter, we do put blankets out because it gets really cold in the winter. We carry food with us. If we see migrants, we give them food.
YVONNE LATTY: DOUG, WHO IS ORIGINALLY FROM MASSACHUSETTS, LOVES BEING IN THE DESERT. THE WIDE VARIETY OF PLANTS, THE BIRDS, THE BIG CACTUS THAT SEEMS TO BE WAVING AT YOU.
Doug Ruopp: It’s beautiful. And yet, there are times that I was out in the desert, and I realized what I loved and what was beautiful to me, was also a cruel, dangerous place for somebody who wasn’t prepared to be out there, and who couldn’t just walk back to their air-conditioned car.
Yvonne Latty: So, when you say that something that you love is also something that is deadly, what, what do you mean?
Doug Ruopp: A lot of the plants have thorns on them, there’s venomous snakes. There’s scorpions. It just goes on and on. But the most dangerous thing is the heat. It’s a dry heat. It can sneak up on you.
YVONNE LATTY: IT’S THE KIND OF HEAT THAT MAKES YOU FEEL LIKE YOU’RE OK, AND THEN YOU ARE NOT.
Doug Ruopp: And many people who cross the border are already low on resources. They probably haven’t had much water if they get out in the desert, they don’t have a place they can go and cool off. Um, they run out of water quickly.
YVONNE LATTY: AND THE WALKING ON ROCKY TERRAIN CAUSES PAINFUL BLISTERS AND SORES ON THEIR FEET, SLOWING THEM DOWN. THEN SOME, OFTEN THE WOUNDED OR WEAK, ARE ABANDONED BY THE COYOTES OR PAID GUIDES WHO PROMISED TO LEAD THEM.
Doug Ruopp: Unfortunately, people get left behind for various reasons. They don’t get along with the leader of the group, or they oversleep, or they get hurt, and they’re slowing everybody down.
YVONNE LATTY: AND HE SAYS MANY MIGRANTS THINK THE HIKE WILL JUST NOT BE THAT FAR. BUT IT IS. AND THE DRY HEAT BEATS ON THEM, DISORIENTS THEM, KILLS SOME OF THEM.
Doug Ruopp: We’re having record heat, well over 110, 115 degrees in some parts of the desert right now. People have died with water. The heat in the desert in certain months is just, it’s deadly.
YVONNE LATTY: GREGORY HESS, A FORENSIC PATHOLOGIST AND CHIEF MEDICAL EXAMINER FOR PIMA COUNTY, SAYS MOST OF THE MIGRANTS’ BODIES ARE FOUND SOON AFTER THEY DIE. SEVEN% DIE OF INJURIES AND 3% HAVE SUFFERED A GUNSHOT WOUND, AND THOSE WOUNDS, ACCORDING TO HESS, USUALLY INVOLVE INCIDENTS WITH BORDER PATROL, NOT THE CARTEL.
Gregory Hess: The vast majority die as a result of exposure. So, exposure could include heatstroke or heat exhaustion, dehydration, maybe lightheaded and dizzy and nauseous and vomiting, delirium, not thinking straight. Our biggest category are people that die within about a day being found and then our second biggest category are skeletal remains that we know have been there for a long time. And then we have a smattering of everything in between.
YVONNE LATTY: MOST OF THE DEAD ARE YOUNG MEN IN THEIR 20S AND 30S. AND THEIR BODIES HAVE BEEN FOUND DEEP INSIDE THE DESERT AND NEAR THE BORDER WALL. SOME REMAINS ARE JUST BONES. THE MAJORITY OF THE 600 UNIDENTIFIED BODIES THAT LAY IN THE PIMA COUNTY MORGUE ARE MIGRANTS. IF THERE IS NO HOPE OF IDENTIFICATION, THEY ARE CREMATED.
Gregory Hess: Really our biggest challenge is identification and trying to reunite missing loved ones with family members who might be looking for them.
YVONNE LATTY: HUMANE BORDERS, IN PARTNERSHIP WITH PIMA COUNTY’S MEDICAL EXAMINER’S OFFICE, HAS CREATED A MIGRANT DEATH MAP. LAST YEAR, 220 MIGRANTS DIED. THIS YEAR IS ON TRACK TO BE THE WORST EVER. THE NUMBER OF DEATHS HAVE TRIPLED. 14 MIGRANTS DIED CROSSING IN JUNE 2020. IN JUNE 2021 THE NUMBER ROSE TO 43. THE PROFILE OF THOSE WILLING TO RISK THEIR LIVES TO COME TO THE U.S. IS CHANGING. IN 2019 THE MAJORITY OF THE MIGRANTS WERE FAMILIES, BUT THIS YEAR 53% OF THEM ARE SINGLE MEN, UP FROM 28%, WHICH REFLECTS THE PERCENTAGE OF THE DEAD. DURING THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION, THE WALL WAS BUILT IN A MANNER TO PUSH MIGRANTS TO HAVE TO CROSS THE MOST DANGEROUS PARTS OF THE DESERT.
Doug Ruopp: The government actually said from the beginning, we’re going to, we’re going to lock up the cities and towns. And if people want to cross, they’re going to have to cross in really dangerous places.
YVONNE LATTY: AND IT IS NOT JUST THE HEAT THAT KILLS THEM. POLICIES WHICH LIMIT OPTIONS FOR A PATH TO ASYLUMS, SOME ARGUE, FORCE PEOPLE TO HAVE NO BETTER OPTION THAN TO CROSS THE POTENTIALLY DEADLY DESERT.
Doug Ruopp: They still, they know people who made it. So, they think they’re going to make it too. Um, so the best we can do is just tell them all the dangers.
YVONNE LATTY: DOUG LAYS OUT A COPY OF THE MIGRANT DEATH MAP. IT’S FILLED WITH RED DOTS WHICH REPRESENT WHERE MIGRANTS HAVE DIED AS THEY TREKKED THROUGH THE DESERT.
Doug Ruopp: So, if you’re in Mexico and somebody like me says, “You know, it’s really dangerous going through the desert,” I can show them a map with all the places where people have died.
YVONNE LATTY: IRONICALLY, MANY OF THE MIGRANTS WEAR FATIGUES JUST LIKE THE MILITIA WHO TARGET THEM.
Doug Ruopp: So, there’s a whole industry in Mexico now, selling camouflage backpacks and clothes and hats and all of that to people.
Yvonne Latty: We know that there’s these militia groups that are destroying the water setups that you guys have.
Doug Ruopp: Well, over the years, we’ve had a number of groups that try to organize because they think this is how they’re going to stop migration, is by stopping the water stations.
YVONNE LATTY: DOUG SAYS THE MILITIA ARE MOTIVATED BY MORE THAN IDEOLOGY. IT’S POLITICAL AND FINANCIAL FOR THEM. THEY SEEM DETERMINED TO INSPIRE OTHERS AND SHOW THE WORLD THAT THEY ARE FULFILLING THEIR MISSION AND DUTY.
Doug Ruopp: Unfortunately, a lot of them find it’s a way to get on the web and make money. You know: ‘Support me. This is what I’m doing.’ They like the camaraderie from it. They like the sense that they’re out doing their sort of macho thing. It’s very unfortunate.
YVONNE LATTY: AND, HE SAYS, THEY ARE NOT WINNING.
Doug Ruopp: The good part is it has very little effect on what we do. There might be a station down for a day, but, you know, it’s right back up again. They don’t spend their days at stations. It’s very erratic what they do.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: SO, WE GAVE MEYER OF VOP A CALL.
Michael Lewis Arthur Meyer: Hello.
Jamila Paksima: Hello, is this Mr. Meyer?
Michael Lewis Arthur Meyer: Speaking.
Jamila Paksima: First of all, do I have permission to record our conversation?
Michael Lewis Arthur Meyer: Well, I’m recording yours.
Jamila Paksima: Well, generally I like to ask permission.
Michael Lewis Arthur Meyer: Well, I don’t have to. But if you want to that’s nice.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: MEYER DENIES HE IS A RACIST OR MILITIA AND SAYS HE IS RUNNING VOP TO OFFER VETERANS WHO ARE DEPRESSED AND SUICIDAL HOPE BY WORKING WITH HIM IN THE DESERT. HE CALLS WHAT HE DOES A “REVERSE HEALING MECHANISM.”
Michael Lewis Arthur Meyer: We have tactical teams that specifically target sex offenders, sexual predators, previously deported criminals.
Jamila Paksima: Isn’t this Border Patrol’s job? Who gave you the authority to do that?
Michael Lewis Arthur Meyer: You’re asking me if it’s Border Patrol’s job to do something that we have a constitutional right and duty and obligation to do ourselves. It is Border Patrol’s job. I’m glad you asked that. But unfortunately, there are politics that get involved that prevent Border Patrol from abiding by Article 4, Section 4, of the United States Constitution when it comes to protecting the nation from an invasion.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: THE ARTICLE IN THE CONSTITUTION MEYER IS REFERRING TO DOES GIVE STATES THE RIGHT TO DEFEND THEMSELVES FROM AN INVASION BUT NO WHERE DOES IT GRANT AUTHORITY TO INDIVIDUALS OR GROUPS LIKE VOP.
Michael Lewis Arthur Meyer: Now, we’re a controversial group because my teams let the migrant workers go if they’re not previously deported criminal, if our checks can’t come up with sex offender or something that puts this guy, is doing something in America, but there is a lot of innocent people that cross up here.
Jamila Paksima: On your videos, Mr. Meyer, on your videos, I’ve never seen you let anybody go. All you do is commandeer people’s belongings.
Michael Lewis Arthur Meyer: Ma’am, you have not seen my videos. You’ve only seen a few videos that’s gone out there. We have let hundreds of people go. That is what we do.
Jamila Paksima: Why don’t you share those videos?
Michael Lewis Arthur Meyer: And I can tell you, there are a lot of people on this side of the border. I have hundreds of coyote phones in my possession.
Jamila Paksima: Right, and do you have the authority to remove people’s property?
Michael Lewis Arthur Meyer: No, no, you don’t understand, these phones are thrown and left in the desert with their trash.
Jamila Paksima: Has Border Patrol asked for help? What is your relationship with Border Patrol?
Michael Lewis Arthur Meyer: My relationship with Border Patrol is my own. The agents are my private protective sources, which I publicly acknowledge, that I have more whistleblowers and more agents that are my sources.
Jamila Paksima: How many are there?
Michael Lewis Arthur Meyer: My sources are my sources. We have children to rescue on the border. If you would like to come down, you can send an email.
Jamila Paksima: I spoke to the sheriff of Pima County. He told me there is no child sex trafficking going on on the border at all. Hello? I guess he hung up.
Yvonne Latty: He hung up on you.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: THE MILITIA ARE TELLING A VERY DIFFERENT BORDER STORY. IT’S NOT ONE OF PEOPLE CROSSING FOR JOBS, HOPE OR SEEKING ASYLUM BECAUSE THEY LIVE IN FEAR IN THEIR HOME COUNTRIES. THEY ARE NOT TALKING ABOUT THE DEADLY DESERT CROSSING CONDITIONS, THE HUNGER AND THIRST. THEIR STORY IS ONE OF DANGEROUS, BLOOD-THIRSTY DRUG CARTELS, TRAFFICKING WOMEN AND CHILDREN. IT’S A STORY BASED ON RHETORIC PROMOTED BY THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION AND ANTI-IMMIGRANT GROUPS OF DRUGS AND VIOLENCE BROUGHT TO THE UNITED STATES AND HOW THEY, THE PATRIOTS, ARE FIGHTING IT.
Michael Lewis Arthur Meyer: I’ve got bags, bags scattered. One, two, three…nine. I’m just doing backpacks right now.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: YOU’RE LISTENING TO MEYER IN A SOCIAL MEDIA VIDEO FEATURING IMAGES OF REBECCA FERLAND OF THE ARIZONA DESERT GUARDIANS ON PATROL. FERLAND HAS OVER 5000 FOLLOWERS ON HER FACEBOOK GROUP. LIKE MEYER, SHE OFTEN PUBLISHES SECRETLY RECORDED VIDEO AND IMAGES, MOSTLY OF MIGRANTS RUNNING AND WALKING IN CAMOUFLAGE THRU THE DESERT. HERE’S REBECCA FERLAND.
Rebecca Ferland: I just want it made very clear that I am, our group is not a militia at all. Yes, we do have, you know, I carry a 9 mm when I go out, but I don’t, I’ve never had to draw my weapon or think I needed to draw my weapon, in any situation at all in that border.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: FERLAND SAYS THE WORK HER GROUP IS DOING IS EDUCATIONAL.
Rebecca Ferland: We educate people about what’s going on on the border. And we also, you know, we call the appropriate people like you’re supposed to, Border Patrol and they come pick up the people. If you looked at any of my videos, we are nonaggressive.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: FERLAND ATTESTS HER GROUP ALSO PROVIDES WATER, AND HER GOAL IS TO HELP CLEAN THE DESERT OF DEBRIS LEFT BEHIND FROM THE MIGRANTS.
Rebecca Ferland: Oh yeah. This one’s full.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: BUT IN THIS VIDEO, FERLAND’S MOTIVES ARE CONCERNING. SHE IS SEEN DUMPING OUT THE WATER SHE FINDS STORED UNDER DESERT BUSHES IN 1 GALLON PLASTIC JUGS. THE JUGS ARE TYPICALLY PAINTED BLACK TO BE LESS VISIBLE IN THE DESERT. HER COLLEAGUE DELIBERATELY STABS HOLES WITH HIS LARGE UTILITY KNIFE IN EACH OF THE SEVEN JUGS THEY FIND.
Ferland’s colleague: Jam this [bleep] a couple times.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: OFTEN THESE VIGILANTE GROUPS ALLEGE LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT AND BORDER PATROL ARE OVERWHELMED.
Rebecca Ferland: We believe that there needs to be reform of some kind. They need to come legally. But we have to fix that problem. And there’s a lot of negative coming with the positive. We don’t say that everybody that comes across that border is bad in anyway. We know that people are lied to, and we know that they are manipulated and sometimes forced into certain things. but we also know that there’s some really bad people and entities in that desert.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: IN ANOTHER VIDEO PUBLISHED ON FEB. 28, 2021, FERLAND AND MEYER ARE ON A HILL SURVEILLING A SMALL COMPOUND IN THE DESERT. THEY CLAIM TO HAVE BEEN OBSERVING PEOPLE THERE FOR THREE HOURS. FERLAND IS CONVINCED WITHOUT ANY APPARENT EVIDENCE THIS IS A SITE FOR HUMAN TRAFFICKING OF CHILDREN. AND SHE ALLEGES THIS IS UNDERCOVER OPERATION LED BY HUMANE BORDERS.
Rebecca Ferland: If you look really careful, I just zoomed in for you. This is your Humane Borders. Humane Borders thinks it’s OK to track kids through here? The only kids that are getting tracked through here are the kids that are coming up missing that nobody knows about. Those are the unaccompanied minors that have been sold to the cartel or the cartel has stolen. Guys. Innocent families don’t come through this camp.
YVONNE LATTY: BUT’S WHAT’S MISSING FROM THE VIGILANTE NARRATIVE IS THE FEAR AND DESPERATION THE MIGRANTS EXPERIENCE AS THEY WALK THROUGH THE DESERT. SOME ARE INJURED, OTHERS DEHYDRATED. IN THESE 911 CALLS YOU CAN HEAR THEIR VOICES. OVER AND OVER, THEY SAY “PERDIDO” WHICH MEANS “LOST” IN SPANISH. THE MIGRANTS WHO CALL HAVE GIVEN UP.
911 operator: 911 where is your emergency?
Migrant 1: Estamo perdido.
911 operator: I have a Roberto who has been calling since yesterday.
Migrant 2: Perdido.
Female operator: ¿Estás perdido?
Migrant 3: Es, si.
911 operator: They said they can no longer walk.
911 operator: We are responding to an 18-year-old male suffering from heatstroke.
Border Patrol officer: What coordinates do you have?
911 operator: Negative 1-11.3366
Jamila Paksima: Hi, Sheriff Nanos.
Sheriff Nanos: Hi. How are you doing?
Jamila Paksima: I’m good. It’s nice to meet you. This is Yvonne Latty. She is my co-host.
Yvonne Latty: Hi, nice to meet you.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: WE REACHED OUT TO SHERIFF CHRIS NANOS, HOPING HE MIGHT HAVE ANSWERS. SOME SAY HIS DEPARTMENT HAS A RESPONSIBILITY TO ADDRESS THIS CRISIS. AFTER ALL, HIS COUNTY IS THE LARGEST ALONG THE ARIZONA BORDER.
Yvonne Latty: It’s incredibly helpful to hear from you.
Sheriff Nanos: OK, well, we’ll see, huh, some people don’t like what I say. I’m probably the only border sheriff in Arizona that would say, “that border belongs to the federal government.”
JAMILA PAKSIMA: SHERIFF NANOS WAS BORN ALONG THE BORDER IN TEXAS NEAR EL PASO AND HAS LIVED IN ARIZONA SINCE 1983. HE SPENT HIS LIFE IN LAW ENFORCEMENT AND HAS BEEN THE SHERIFF OF PIMA COUNTY FOR ABOUT A YEAR.
Jamila Paksima: Do you see issues with cartels running through the desert?
Sheriff Nanos: We don’t see the cartel at our borders. Mexico might see them. We don’t.
Jamila Paksima: Have you ever found what they call a rape tree where they rape women and children?
Sheriff Nanos: No. We investigated those reports. It’s not even close to true. There is zero evidence to prove what they’re saying.
Jamila Paksima: How about if there’s video evidence of two or three of these different groups together, videotaping buildings where they claim there’s child sex trafficking going on?
Sheriff Nanos: There is zero evidence from these people that there’s child sex trafficking, that there’s any of what they’ve been reporting. Don’t show me video evidence of a tree that has, oh, look, there’s children’s undergarments, there’s a molestation tree. Rubbish. Show me something that says this is a crime. Then we have a crime, we can work and investigate.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: SHERIFF NANOS SAYS HIS OFFICE HAS RECEIVED SOME COMPLAINTS FROM HUMANE BORDERS AND OTHER HUMANITARIAN GROUPS ABOUT MILITIA HARASSMENT, BUT THE EVIDENCE IS OFTEN WEAK.
Sheriff Nanos: We get people say, ‘Here’s a damaged water tower or water tank,’ but we don’t know who did it or we can believe we know who did it. It’s those vigilantes. But if you don’t have the proof, I can’t go arrest those guys.
Jamila Paksima: So, there’s this gentleman, Michael Lewis Arthur Meyer, why can’t this man be stopped?
JAMILA PAKSIMA: MEYER HAS A LONG CRIMINAL RECORD OF MOSTLY MISDEMEANORS LIKE CRIMINAL TRESPASS AND DISORDERLY CONDUCT.
Sheriff Nanos: Damaging property is not as great a crime, and I’m sure you understand that, as a human life. I get that he could be a problem, but he’s one of several we have.
Yvonne Latty: We had an early rise this morning.
Jamila Paksima: All goes with the job, right?
Yvonne Latty: No rest for the weary, as my dad would say.
YVONNE LATTY: IT’S A BRIGHT SUNNY MORNING IN TUCSON, AND WE ARE HEADING TO HUMANE BORDERS TO VISIT A FEW OF THEIR WATER STATIONS.
Jamila Paksima: But this is every day for Humane Borders. I mean, this is what they have to do every day to go out to supply the water all around this region.
YVONNE LATTY: WE SPOT DOUG BY ONE OF HUMANE BORDER’S PICKUP TRUCKS, LOADED AND READY TO GO.
Yvonne Latty: Hey, Doug.
Doug Ruopp: How are you?
Yvonne Latty: Good, I’m good. So, uh, what do we got back here?
Doug Ruopp: We’ve got extra flagpoles, water, extra tank. This is our smaller truck. So, we use this when we go out just to make sure that a particular couple of barrels are in good shape
YVONNE LATTY: AND THERE’S BAGGIES FILLED WITH FOOD.
Doug Ruopp: There’s peanut butter for protein, there’s applesauce for liquid. There’s spaghettiOs, which they might not eat right away. They might, you know, eat those later when their stomachs are calm again. A granola bar for quick energy.
YVONNE LATTY: WE CLIMB INTO THE PICKUP AND ARE OFF, QUICKLY OUT OF THIS DUSTY SECTION OF TUCSON AND INTO THE HIGHWAYS SURROUNDED BY DESERT. WE SEE COYOTES AND ROADRUNNERS. THE TALL CACTUS THAT SEEM TO BE BECKONING YOU TO ENTER THE DESERT ARE SEEMINGLY EVERYWHERE.
Yvonne Latty: It seems so endless. It’s like you put the water out there and then the next month, more people cross and…
Doug Ruopp: Right.
Yvonne Latty: More people are dead.
Doug Ruopp: Right.
Yvonne Latty: Out there in the desert. What drives you to keep going?
Doug Ruopp: You know, when I wake up in the morning, I’m not thinking about all the deaths. I’m thinking about: Do we have enough barrels? Do we have enough volunteers to service the barrels? Are the tires in good shape on the trucks? You know, I try and I try to stay focused on what we can actually do, because if I think too much about it, it’s just an overwhelming problem.
YVONNE LATTY: THE DESERT LANDSCAPE IS UNEVEN. IT’S ROCKY. THERE ARE SNAKES, SCORPIONS AND BOBCATS. AND THERE’S THE HEAT. RISING TO OVER 100 DEGREES, THERE IS NO SHADE AND NO WATER. DOUG DRIVES US TO A WATER STATION THAT HE SAYS HAS BEEN A TARGET OF MEYER.
Jamila Paksima: So, is this the one that Meyer has sabotaged before?
Doug Ruopp: Yeah.
Jamila Paksima: And how do you know it’s him?
Doug Ruopp: Well, because he livestreams where he is, believe it or not. And that’s not enough because we’ve never gotten video of him actually doing something. He’ll say he’s going to do something. And then the video goes off and you see the barrel messed up, but you can’t prove that, that it was him, and it’s only a misdemeanor. So, the police are not that interested.
YVONNE LATTY: TODAY THE WATER BARREL IS UNTOUCHED.
Yvonne Latty: So, this is, uh, 55 gallons?
Doug Ruopp: Yeah, yeah. Our goal is to keep it full, of course.
Yvonne Latty: And is it cold?
Doug Ruopp: It’s not cold. Right now. It’s probably good, though. You can taste it. A lot of these barrels will have a slight flavoring because we get these from a soda manufacturing company.
Jamila Paksima: What do you taste, Yvonne?
Yvonne Latty: Definitely have some sort of aftertaste.
Doug Ruopp: Yeah. From the soda.
Jamila Paksima: Something lemony limey, maybe.
Doug Ruopp: You sound like wine tasters.
YVONNE LATTY: WE CLIMB BACK IN THE PICKUP TRUCK AND HEAD TO ANOTHER WATER BARREL. BUT THIS SITE WE HAVE TO HIKE TO BECAUSE OF HEAVY RAINS THE NIGHT BEFORE.
Doug Ruopp: Oh, go in until we hit the big puddle.
YVONNE LATTY: WE PASS A CHECKPOINT. THINGS ARE QUIET THOUGH, AND DOUG’S PICKUP TRUCK WAVED THROUGH. OUR EYES ARE PEERING INTO THE DESERT, LOOKING, SEARCHING, FOR MIGRANTS, FOR CLUES. I SEE SOMEONE MOVE NEAR A SHRUB AND WONDER, WAS THAT A MIGRANT? WE DRIVE DEEPER AND DEEPER INTO THE DESERT. UNTIL DOUG STOPS IN FRONT OF A LARGE, LAKELIKE PUDDLE.
Doug Ruopp: Somebody was down here in a vehicle with chains, so they must have been worried about the mud. See, there’s the reason we’re not going to keep driving.
Jamila Paksima: I see it right there, puddles.
YVONNE LATTY: AND SO, OUR MILE HIKE BEGINS. DOUG IS TALKING ABOUT MINES AND HISTORY, BUT MY FOCUS IS ON THE THORNS FROM THE PLANTS PINCHING ME THROUGH MY SHIRT, THE SWEAT POURING DOWN MY FACE, AND SOAKING MY SHIRT. I CAN’T SEE JAMILA WHO IS BEHIND ME. I AM WALKING STRAIGHT AHEAD AS FAST AS I CAN, DODGING OBSTACLES, JUST TRYING TO MAKE IT TO THE WATER STATION. I FEEL DISORIENTED, LIKE I COULD NOT FIND MY WAY BACK TO THE PICKUP ALONE.
Doug Ruopp: It’s hard to believe right now that we’re in the desert, huh?
Jamila Paksima: Right, you can hear squishy mud under my feet.
YVONNE LATTY: I AM HAVING TROUBLE FOCUSING.
Jamila Paksima: Sorry, what?
Yvonne Latty: I have bugs in my ear.
YVONNE LATTY: WE FINALLY MAKE IT TO THE BLUE BARREL. THERE’S A CONTAINER FOR TRASH NEAR THE BARREL, IT’S HALF FULL OF MIGRANT DISCARDS.
Jamila Paksima: I see some camouflage.
Doug Ruopp: Yeah, there’s a camouflage backpack. Uh, black bottle. Yeah. Actually, I need some water. There we go. I’ll test this. It’ll probably be similar to the last one.
Jamila Paksima: There’s a helicopter.
Doug Ruopp: Yeah.
Jamila Paksima: Border Patrol, right?
Doug Ruopp: Mm-hmm. More than likely. Yep.
Jamila Paksima: And also, this is right where we are completely disorienting. You can’t see a mountain peak.
Doug Ruopp: Right. Right. We’re about 12 miles from the border, a day’s walk.
YVONNE LATTY: AFTER WE LOOK AROUND A BIT, WE HEAD BACK ON THE TRAIL AND WE SAY GOODBYE TO DOUG.
Christy Voelkel: Hey, where’d she go? I have a job for you.
YVONNE LATTY: THE NEXT DAY WE GO TO CASA ALITAS IN TUCSON. THEY HELP MIGRANT FAMILIES FIND SHORT- AND LONG-TERM SHELTER AND HELP REUNITE FAMILIES.
Christy Voelkel: They’re kind of a big family of five, and I don’t think they’ve sent their information, flight information to us? Do you mind…
YVONNE LATTY: IF A FACILITY COULD SPEAK, THIS ONE WOULD SHOUT: “WE WILL HELP YOU. YOU ARE SAFE.” IT’S COLORFUL, WITH ART, PLANTS AND FLOWERS. A LARGE BROWN-SKINNED PAPER MACHE OF A STATUE OF LIBERTY WELCOMES ASYLUM SEEKERS INTO A LARGE ROOM THAT LOOKS MORE LIKE THE RECEPTION AREA AT A SCHOOL FAIR. THERE ARE ROWS OF TABLES WITH NURSES ADMINISTERING COVID-19 VACCINES. THERE’S FREE CLOTHES, SHOWERS, FOOD, AND ROOMS TO SLEEP IN. VOLUNTEERS ARE BUZZING EVERYWHERE, MINGLING WITH FAMILIES WHO NEED HELP.
Christy Voelkel: Hold on. Hey, there’s the man.
Jamila Paksima: Hey Diego, how are you?
YVONNE LATTY: WE MEET DIEGO PIÑA LOPEZ, THE PROGRAM MANAGER, AND TAKE A TOUR OF THE LARGE BUSTLING FACILITY. IT WAS A BUSY MORNING WITH ABOUT 150 NEW ARRIVALS.
Jamila Paksima: We saw the statistics just come out on June that we are at the highest number of migrants coming across the southern border in the United States. What nations are people coming from?
Diego Piña Lopez: I’ve seen people from all around the world. I’ve seen people from Russia, Cameroon, Congo, Haitians, Brazilians, Romanians, most, if not all the Central American countries coming through our southern border.
YVONNE LATTY: AND YOU CAN SEE THESE DIVERSE FACES AT THE SHELTER RUMMAGING THROUGH THE FREE CLOTHES STORE SETUP, OR SITTING WITH VOLUNTEERS TRYING TO SORT OUT WHAT TO DO NEXT.
Diego Piña Lopez: When the situation for many of these families is a die at home or try to survive in the U.S., or try to make this journey, what would you do?
YVONNE LATTY: AND THEN I SEE HER, SITTING IN A CHAIR WITH A BIG SMILE ON HER FACE. SHE’S A HAITIAN WOMAN, IN HER MID-20S. ON HER LAP IS HER NEWBORN SON, WITH A BLUE-AND-GRAY-STRIPED SHIRT, BLUE PANTS AND THICK SHINY BLACK CURLS.
Yvonne Latty: Oh my goodness. Oh my God. What’s his name?
Woman: [says name]
Yvonne Latty: A very new baby.
Diego Piña Lopez: That was a new baby, yeah.
YVONNE LATTY: AS I LOOK AROUND THE FACILITY IN TUCSON, I SEE TODDLERS, PREGNANT WOMEN, TEENAGERS, MOMS AND DADS, FAMILIES WHO SURVIVED THE TREK ACROSS THE DESERT. SOME WEAR ANKLE MONITORS. THE AVERAGE STAY IN CASA ALITAS IS 12 TO 72 HOURS.
Diego Piña Lopez: I think these are the stories that really need to come out on the border. It’s to say like, how do we treat people with respect? How do we recognize people’s needs? And then how do we work together to make sure that we’re moving to be a little bit better than we were yesterday.
Jamila Paksima: There’s Mexico.
Yvonne Latty: Yeah.
Jamila Paksima: Right across, I can see right there.
Yvonne Latty: It’s really colorful.
YVONNE LATTY: OUR NEXT STOP IS NOGALES, ARIZONA, WHERE PEOPLE CAN LEGALLY CROSS THE U.S./MEXICO BORDER FOR WORK, SHOPPING AND DAY TRIPS. IT’S ALSO THE SITE OF A DRAMATIC VIEW OF THE BORDER WALL.
Donald Trump: Number one: Are you ready? Are you ready? We will build a great wall along the southern border.
YVONNE LATTY: IT’S NOT MY FIRST TIME IN NOGALES. I TRAVELED WITH MY GRADUATE STUDENTS YEARS AGO ON A REPORTING TRIP. IT WAS A BUSTLING BORDER TOWN BACK THEN, BUT NOW IT FEELS DESOLATE.
Jamila Paksima: It was like a vibrant market.
Yvonne Latty: Yeah. You walk around, you’re passing people, and you really got to see what a vibrant community this side of the border was. And now it’s literally a ghost town.
YVONNE LATTY: WHEN COVID-19 STRUCK IN MARCH OF 2020, THE NOGALES BORDER WAS SHUT DOWN FOR NONESSENTIAL VISITORS. AND IT HAS NOT REOPENED. THE EFFECT HAS BEEN DEVASTATING FOR THIS SMALL CITY. BUSINESS DOORS ARE PADLOCKED, FOR LEASE SIGNS ARE TAPED ON WINDOWS. AND TOWERING ABOVE THE CITY IS THE WALL. THE BORDER WALL IS 30 FEET HIGH, MADE OF STEEL AND RAZOR WIRE. THERE ARE ANTI-CLIMBING PLATES ON THE TOP AND THE FOUNDATION EXTENDS 6-TO-10 FEET UNDERGROUND TO PREVENT TUNNELING. BUT THIS BARRIER IS NOT ENOUGH FOR MICHAEL LEWIS ARTHUR MEYER.
Michael Lewis Arthur Meyer: Everyone thinks that Trump’s wall is up. But they don’t understand that Trump did not give a wall in 60% of our county. 60% of our county has no wall. They walk right across. They dump these children in the middle of the night.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: JOEL SMITH, THE OPERATIONS MANAGER FOR HUMANE BORDERS HAS EXPERIENCED MEYER’S ALARMIST RANTS AND TOXIC BELIEFS. THEY’VE HAD NASTY CONFRONTATIONS. YOU CAN HEAR MEYER IRATE AND TRYING TO CLAIM THE MORAL GROUND AS HE YELLS AT SMITH IN THIS CLIP.
Michael Lewis Arthur Meyer: Humanitarian aid for child traffickers, you’re staging humanitarian aid, yet you’re going to try to jump on me in court. Who the [bleep] you think you are, buddy?
Joel Smith: I came here to talk to you.
Michael Lewis Arthur Meyer: No, you didn’t come to talk to me. You came to run your [bleep] mouth
Joel Smith: No, I came to talk to you…
Jamila Paksima: What was the precursor to what happened here? Because it seems like you wanted to have a conversation with him.
Joel Smith: Yeah, yeah, well, he’d been making threats for several months. He was going to confiscate and redistribute my stations.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: JOEL IS 58. HE IS TALL AND LANKY WITH LONG GRAY HAIR AND A WHITE BEARD. HE HAS BEEN WITH HUMANE BORDERS FOR OVER A DECADE WAKING UP IN THE WEE HOURS OF THE MORNING TO MAKE SURE MIGRANTS HAVE WATER.
Jamila Paksima: Have you seen evidence of women and children being trafficked through the desert?
Joel Smith: I have seen no evidence of that. I’m sure it does happen, but it’s on a different level. And it’s not…they’re not coming to the desert. They’re probably meeting people at the airports. There’s cash being exchanged. You know, human trafficking on that scale, requires a lot of officials to turn a blind eye. And there’s no way you can get Border Patrol to turn a blind eye to that. If you notice, Border Patrol agents are not making that claim.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: JOEL, A MARINE VETERAN, SAYS HE IS NOT AFRAID OF MEYER AND THE OTHERS.
Joel Smith: I think of them as a pathetic bunch of clowns. But what scares me is that they use the language of violence, they have the images of violence.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: CRUZ FROM SPLC SAYS MILITIA GROUPS OFTEN NETWORK AND PRACTICE DRILLS TOGETHER. IT’S ALSO COMMON FOR MILITIA GROUPS FROM NON-BORDER STATES TO TRAVEL AND OFFER THEIR SUPPORT IN ARIZONA.
Freddy Cruz: Arizona has a long history of sort of enticing these militia groups to come to the state with the idea that Border Patrol needs their help. And that’s what we’re seeing a lot of right now, is these sort of militia extremist anti-government organizations showing up to the border with the intent to take on the role of Border Patrol.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: MEYER, ON SOCIAL MEDIA, SAYS HE HAS STEPPED AWAY FROM VETERANS ON PATROL, AND IS SOLELY WORKING WITH THE NEW COALITION OF MILITIA MEMBERS TO FIGHT THE CARTELS.
Freddy Cruz: He has no training. He’s not part of any federal agency. But when they go out, they say they are going out on operations or missions. They tend to at times have members who are armed, which, of course, can be, you know, quite concerning.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: CRUZ HAS PUBLISHED A STORY ABOUT IT AND NOTIFIED THE OFFICE OF HOMELAND SECURITY ABOUT THE ESCALATING VIGILANTE ACTIVITY.
Freddy Cruz: The group does claim that they’ve been, you know, across the border into places like Mexico and Guatemala with this idea of stopping the migrants from entering the U.S.
Jamila Paksima: It’s almost like he’s writing his own script. He’s been calling all his videos “Border Wars.” And if he is, in fact, he is going over there now…
Freddy Cruz: Yeah.
Jamila Paksima: He’s going to ignite something.
Freddy Cruz: Yeah. It seems to be another one of his, you know, propaganda stunts with this idea of trying to entice his followers to help continue this narrative of these people are dangerous, and they’re essentially waging a war at the border.
YVONNE LATTY: NEXT, IN PART 2 OF THE UNWELCOME, WE VISIT THE TOWN OF ARIVACA, ARIZONA, POPULATION 723, JUST 11 MILES FROM THE BORDER. THIS SMALL TOWN IS INFAMOUS FOR STANDING UP TO THE MILITIA, BUT LATELY THE MILITIA HAS MOVED INTO THEIR TOWN.
Rebecca: They tell people across the country that we’re all drug smugglers, that we’re all child sex traffickers, and that they’re like these heroes that are saving America from us.
Ken Buchanan: And it’s not really anti-immigration, it’s anti-Brown people and anti-poor people immigrating. That’s a problem, to them. They’re just off the deep end somewhere. They’re just terrified of everything.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: THESE ARE COMPLICATED STORIES ABOUT PEOPLE WHO FIGHT FOR THEIR TRUTH. THOSE WHO ARE DEMANDING AFFIRMING POLICIES WHICH WILL NOT ROB CHILDREN OF THEIR POWER, NOR STRIP ANY AMERICAN OF HAVING EQUAL ACCESS, INFLUENCE, PROTECTIONS, AND VOTING RIGHTS.
YVONNE LATTY: IF YOU KNOW SOMEONE WHO HAS EXPERIENCED A HATE INCIDENT OR CRIME, PLEASE CONTACT THE APPROPRIATE LOCAL AUTHORITIES OR ELECTED OFFICIALS. YOU CAN ALSO DOCUMENT WHAT HAPPENED AT SPLCENTER.ORG.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: THIS IS SOUNDS LIKE HATE, AN INDEPENDENT AUDIO DOCUMENTARY BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER. PRODUCED BY UNTIL 20 PRODUCTIONS. I’M JAMILA PAKSIMA.
YVONNE LATTY: AND I’M YVONNE LATTY. REMEMBER TO SUBSCRIBE TO FIND OUT WHEN NEW EPISODES ARE RELEASED. PLEASE RATE AND REVIEW. IT REALLY HELPS. AND THANKS FOR LISTENING.