Jamila Paksima: There is a paved street going through the town of Arivaca. Everybody waves, that guy just waved at us, and it’s really known to be like a really friendly, welcoming place, just sort of live-and-let-live kind of folks live here. It is the closest town to the southern border.
Yvonne Latty: And you can get a 16-ounce Budweiser for 2 bucks. Not bad.
YVONNE LATTY: WELCOME TO ARIVACA, ARIZONA, POPULATION, ABOUT 723.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: 9 MILES NORTH OF THE BORDER.
YVONNE LATTY: THERE IS NOT MUCH HERE TO NOTE. THE TOWN IS NOT EVEN INCORPORATED. THERE’S NO POLICE FORCE OR TOWN GOVERNMENT. NO NEARBY TOWNS OR CITIES. JUST DESERT MOUNTAIN VISTAS OVERLOOKING AN ECCENTRIC COMMUNITY MOSTLY FILLED WITH AGING HIPPIES, ARTISTS AND RETIREES WHO SOMEHOW FOUND THIS TOWN… AND A BOND WITH EACH OTHER.
Jamila Paksima: I see one, two, three. There’s about six buildings in the main part of town, a gas station mercantile, a little white building with… Everything is really one store. This business doesn’t even look like it’s operating. And the biggest business seems to be this La Gitana Cantina and Cafe, which is kind of the hangout of the town.
YVONNE LATTY: AND THERE IS A SIGN ON THE DOOR OF THE POPULAR LOCAL SPOT THAT MAKES IT CLEAR WHERE THIS SMALL TOWN STANDS WHEN IT COMES TO MILITIAS.
Jamila Paksima: Read what this sign says here.
Joel Smith: It says, “Unwanted: member of any vigilante border militia group, including but not limited to Arizona Border Recon. Do not enter our establishment.”
Jamila Paksima: So, they are happy to have strangers come to their community. They’re here to welcome anybody, but they don’t want to welcome the militia.
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 PROTECTIONS PROMISED TO ALL AMERICANS.
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.
Jamila Paksima: Are you seeing a resurgence of militia activity around here?
Joel Smith: Trump unleashed the whole can of… Well, I wouldn’t say can of worms, but a nightmare on us.
YVONNE LATTY: IN PART TWO OF THE UNWELCOME, WE ARE IN ARIVACA, A SMALL TOWN NEAR THE ARIZONA BORDER. THIS TOWN HAS TAKEN A PRO- MIGRANT STAND. THEY FOUGHT A CHECKPOINT IN THEIR TOWN, BANNED THE MILITIA FROM THEIR POPULAR BAR/RESTAURANT. IN FACT IT’S HARD TO FIND A RESIDENT WHO HASN’T LENT A HELPING HAND WHEN NEEDED TO A MIGRANT. BUT DESPITE THEIR EFFORT, LESS THAN A MILE FROM THE TOWN CENTER, THE MILITIA IS OPENING THEIR OWN CAFE. AND MORE ANTI- MIGRANT RESIDENTS ARE MOVING IN. MIGRANTS ARE CROSSING THE BORDER AT RECORD NUMBERS, AROUND 1.5 MILLION SO FAR THIS YEAR. SOME WONDER IF LOCAL AUTHORITIES HAVE GIVEN A GREEN LIGHT TO THE MILITIA’S ACTIVITIES. A WARNING TO OUR LISTENERS, THE CLAIMS MADE BY MICHAEL LEWIS ARTHUR MEYER OF VOP, OR VETERANS ON PATROL, IN OUR REPORT ARE DISTURBING, VIOLENT AND UNSUBSTANTIATED. VOP IS NOT SANCTIONED BY THE U.S. GOVERNMENT. THEY CREATE THEIR OWN RULES AND LAWS IN THE DESERT.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: BUT THIS STORY BEGINS WITH A VISIT WITH THE FORMER UNOFFICIAL MAYOR OF ARIVACA, KEN BUCHANAN, WHO TAKES US TO HIS VERSION OF AN ARIVACAN COUNTRY CLUB.
Jamila Paksima: What’s the name of this place?
Ken Buchanan: The Crooked Sky Country Club.
Jamila Paksima: The Crooked Guy Country Club.
Ken Buchanan: Crooked Sky
Jamila Paksima: Crooked Sky.
Ken Buchanan: Yeah. You see crooked sky everywhere you look.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: WE PUSH THE SLIDING GLASS DOOR AND ENTER WHAT I CAN BEST DESCRIBE AS A MAN CAVE. THERE’S ABSTRACT SCULPTURES, AT LEAST ONE IS MADE OF WOOD. THERE’S A LOW CEILING, FLUORESCENT LIGHT, MISMATCHED FURNITURE, A FRIDGE STOCKED WITH BEER AND SOFT DRINKS, BEIGE CARPET, AND SEVERAL CARD TABLES READY FOR TONIGHT’S POKER GAME. WE SIT AT THE MINI BAR AS KEN ROLLS AN AMERICAN SPIRIT CIGARETTE. KEN’S 67, AND A RETIRED CONSTRUCTION WORKER WHO SPECIALIZED IN CONCRETE. HE’S TALL AND LEAN, WITH A LONG, WHITE SCRAGGLY BEARD AND MATCHING WHITE HAIR. HE HAS LIVED IN ARIVACA OFF AND ON SINCE 1993.
Ken Buchanan: It’s Mother Nature without her makeup on. I mean, it’s just it’s a living, breathing place, you know, it’s absolutely real.
Jamila Paksima: So, the rumor has it, you’re the de facto mayor of this place.
Ken Buchanan: I was at one time. I resigned. There’s all sorts of rules about having a mayor. We qualify for none of them. So, I just declared I was the mayor, and it was just a joke, and it was supposed to be funny. And for a long time, it was. But then people started, you know, getting like, “Oh, you’re the mayor. Can we do this? Can we do this? Can, can you know, can we.” Blah, blah, blah, blah. And it’s like, guys, just calm down, you know, it’s all a joke. It’s just supposed to be funny. I was doing it for the humor in it. At one point, it became not humorous, so I stopped.
Jamila Paksima: What’s happening that’s different, and what’s going on now that’s different about this place. What do we need to know?
Ken Buchanan: I guess what’s different about this place, until recently, we didn’t believe in fear, you know, we just weren’t afraid, and so much of our world has turned into that being afraid and hating people for the color of their skin, for their economic status. We didn’t participate in that. And that’s really what this town was about. It’s like, ‘Yeah, yeah. You want to be that way. Fine. Go somewhere else and be that way. But we’re getting those people now.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: KEN SAYS ARIVACA IS CHANGING. MORE RIGHT-WING RESIDENTS ARE MOVING IN, AND THEY ARE BRINGING IN HATE. ONE REALTOR WHO DID NOT WANT TO BE IDENTIFIED SAID THE NEW NEIGHBORS ARE CLEANING UP DILAPIDATED PROPERTIES, SHOPPING IN LOCAL STORES, AND SUPPORTING LOCAL ARTISTS. AND POLITICAL AFFILIATION IS NOT A BARRIER TO BEING ABLE TO BUY A HOME OR A BUSINESS IN ARIVACA.
YVONNE LATTY: NOW THE LONGTIME NEIGHBORS OF ARIVACA WORRY NOT ONLY OF A SHIFT IN THE CULTURE OF THE TOWN BUT FEAR THESE NEW NEIGHBORS WILL TOLERATE AND EVEN ENCOURAGE MORE VIGILANTES WHO WANT TO USE THE TOWN AS A LAUNCHPAD TO PREY ON THE MIGRANTS.
Freddy Cruz: So, there is a long history of extremist groups traveling to the desert with this idea that Border Patrol essentially needs citizens to man the front lines.
YVONNE LATTY: FREDDY CRUZ , A RESEARCH ANALYST WITH THE SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER TRACKS ANTI-GOVERNMENT GROUPS.
Freddy Cruz: For a couple of decades now, there’s a long history of vigilante activity that’s been tracked.
YVONNE LATTY: WITH SO MUCH ANTI-IMMIGRANT RHETORIC COMING OUT OF WASHINGTON AND THE GOP, THESE GROUPS FEEL JUSTIFIED AND SUPPORTED.
Freddy Cruz: I think a lot of the rhetoric that’s come out of the right at this moment regarding immigration and an influx of immigrants has really emboldened groups to go out in the desert with this idea that they’re just complying with their duties as citizens to keep the nation safe.
Donald Trump: When Mexico sends its people, they are not sending their best.
Freddy Cruz: I think it was really played up by, you know, our former president.
Donald Trump: They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They are sending people who have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs, they are bringing crime, they’re rapists and some, I assume, are good people.
Freddy Cruz: Trump was very, very vocal in terms of categorizing, you know, Mexicans as criminals and rapists.
Ken Buchanan: It’s not really anti-immigration, it’s anti-Brown people immigrating, that is the problem. Anti-poor people immigrating, that’s a problem to them.
YVONNE LATTY: KEN SAYS THEIR HATE IS DRIVEN BY FEAR
Ken Buchanan: They’re just over the edge. They’re just off the deep end somewhere. They’re just terrified of everything. I could list all the things they’re terrified of. You know, the only thing they’re not terrified of is rich white guys in suits. That’s the one thing they should be terrified of, you know, but everything else, Black people, Brown people, women, they’re scared to death of them.
Jamila Paksima: What are they going to do? What are they going to do to them, these people of other colors?
Ken Buchanan: You might have to ask them that because I have no idea. They just want to express their hatred, and that’s what they’re doing.
YVONNE LATTY: KEN HAS HAD SOME RUN-INS WITH BORDER PATROL IN THE PAST, AND THEY SCARE HIM. HE SAYS YEARS AGO HIS WIFE WROTE NEGATIVE ARTICLES ABOUT BORDER PATROL FOR A LOCAL PUBLICATION, AND IT MADE HIS FAMILY A TARGET.
Ken Buchanan: They knew instantly who we were. Yeah, that makes my asshole pucker. Sorry, but it scares me. They know who I am. They know that I’m a liberal, that I will help people that are in need, but I’m not going to tell you how many I have or haven’t.
YVONNE LATTY: HE SEES BORDER PATROL IN HIS COMMUNITY EVERYDAY. HE SAYS THEY SET UP ON THE ONLY ROUTE THE MIGRANTS CAN TAKE THROUGH DIFFICULT TERRAIN FORCING THEM TO TAKE MORE DEADLY ROUTES.
Ken Buchanan: And it is a deathtrap out there. That’s why they set it up that way. It is really rugged, low on water. It’s a dangerous, dangerous place, and they really don’t mind if they die.
Jamila Paksima: Now, that is a powerful statement. “They don’t mind if they die.”
Ken Buchanan: Just my opinion — can’t prove that. No. There’s going to be people that hate, and often they have badges. We see it in our country right now. Yvonne, how many of your brothers and sisters have been killed recently? Just because of the color of your skin. And these people are Brown, that qualifies. They would want them dead rather than be in here. Just my opinion.
Jamila Paksima: Let’s just go back to this, this person who recently is now paying, it’s like a bounty.
Ken Buchanan: He has a website.
YVONNE LATTY: THE CONVERSATION MOVES TO TIM FOLEY, THE LEADER OF ARIZONA BORDER RECON, A LOCAL MILITIA GROUP.
Ken Buchanan: His name is Tim Foley.
YVONNE LATTY: FOLEY MOVED TO ARIVACA FOUR YEARS AGO FROM THE NEARBY TOWN OF SASABE. HE WAS IN CONFLICT WITH HIS NEIGHBORS THERE AND HAS BEEN SHUNNED BY MANY IN ARIVACA BECAUSE HE CONTINUES TO TRACK MIGRANTS AND INVITES OTHERS TO JOIN HIM.
Ken Buchanan: They arm themselves up with automatic weapons. Get in his pickup and drive out there, there’s lots of roads out there, and they drive out there looking for them.
Jamila Paksima: And if they capture someone?
Ken Buchanan: Technically, again, they’re supposed to contact the Border Patrol, but often what they do is put that person in their vehicle and take them to a Border Patrol agent. Although Tim Foley will tell you, “Oh, we’re not militia, we’re not.” That’s exactly what it is.
Jamila Paksima: Is he your nemesis? How do you keep a friendship with someone who you disagree with so deeply?
Ken Buchanan: Well, mostly I keep my mouth shut, you know, but I tell him, and I’ll be honest with him, “Yeah, I really object to what you’re doing. And I won’t give you a hard time about it.” As far as the things I’m saying here, what are the odds that he’s going to watch your program?
YVONNE LATTY: KEN OFFERS TO INTRODUCE US TO TIM FOLEY, WHO HE SAYS IS WORKING ON BUILDING A CAFE LESS THAN A MILE FROM THE TOWN CENTER. HE SAYS WE PASSED HIM ON OUR WAY TO THE COUNTRY CLUB. SO, WE DRIVE OUT OF THE CLUB AND BEFORE WE KNOW IT, WE SEE FOLEY WORKING ON THE CAFÉ, AND WE WALK OVER TO HIM.
Yvonne Latty: Hey, there.
Jamila Paksima: Are you Mr. Foley? Can I chat with you for a second?
Tim Foley: Sure.
Jamila Paksima: Well, I know you are on the job so…
Tim Foley: I well, I could just blame it on you that I couldn’t work because you wanted to talk.
Jamila Paksima: We’re journalists, and we wanted to see if we could set up.
Tim Foley: Sorry to hear that. So, he’s just the driver and security.
Jamila Paksima: Yeah. Yeah, he’s here with us working with us.
Tim Foley: And who are you with?
Jamila Paksima: I work with the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Tim Foley: Oh, well, we were on your… We were on your watchlist there for four years, and we did something wrong because we got booted off.
Jamila Paksima: Do you want to be back on the list?
Tim Foley: I guess there was better extremists out there besides us. See, what we’re doing has nothing to do with race.
Jamila Paksima: OK.
Tim Foley: What we have, what we’re dealing with is sustainability. How many millions of people can we bring in and sustain before your taxes go up? Everything goes up to pay for hospitals, schools, jails.
Yvonne Latty: So, what do you think? It’s like a half-hour, 40 minutes, sometime later today or.
Tim Foley: Later today?
Jamila Paksima: Can we do it downtown?
Tim Foley: There is no place downtown.
Jamila Paksima: Somewhere outside.
Tim Foley: Because they won’t allow me in a bar.
Jamila Paksima: Oh, they won’t let you in there?
Tim Foley: No because they say I’m a racist. Now, if I was a racist, I wouldn’t be talking to a Black female, a Black male or a Hispanic female.
Yvonne Latty: Actually, I’m Hispanic, and she’s not.
YVONNE LATTY: TIM FOLEY IS ABOUT 60. HE HAS THE BRIGHTEST, PIERCING BLUE EYES I HAVE EVER SEEN, LIKE THEY COULD DRILL A HOLE IN YOU IF HE CHOSE TOO. HE IS ROUGHLY ABOUT 5’7”, AND HAS TATTOOS ON HIS NECK AND ARMS. HE’S VERY SLIM, AND WEARS CAMEL-COLORED PANTS AND A MATCHING CAP ON BACKWARDS. HIS SKIN ALSO MATCHES HIS CLOTHES, HIS FACE IS LINED AND DEEPLY TANNED WITH GRAY STUBBLE. READING GLASSES HANG ON HIS BEIGE POCKET T-SHIRT. HE LOOKS LIKE A MAN WHO SPENDS A LOT OF TIME IN THE DESERT. HE NORMALLY CHARGES $200-$500 FOR A MEDIA INTERVIEW. BUT HE TALKS TO US FOR FREE.
Tim Foley: My time is money, just like your time is money.
YVONNE LATTY: AND SO, IT BEGINS. WE, AN IRANIAN IMMIGRANT AND A BLACK DAUGHTER OF A LATINA IMMIGRANT, INTERVIEW THE HEAD OF A VIGILANTE GROUP WHOSE STOPS PEOPLE FROM ACHIEVING THEIR AMERICAN DREAM BECAUSE HE DOES NOT AGREE WITH HOW THEY GET HERE.
Yvonne Latty: Can you tell us what you do?
Tim Foley: Uh, basically, I am the, uh, field operations director for Arizona Border Recon. We’ve been doing this for 12 years. We run it through the cartels down along the border here because there’s an 80-mile stretch of the border where 40% of all the drugs come through, and we’re sitting right in the middle of it. We’re seeing more and more cartel deeper and deeper into Arizona carrying AK-47s. It’s we’re an extra set of eyes and ears because, see, when we spot something, we call Border Patrol.
Jamila Paksima: Tell us what you’re spotting.
Tim Foley: Drugs, people that have been deported multiple times for rape, murder, you name it. This is an area where people come through that don’t want to get caught because there’s limited access. So, it’s not like Texas or California where, you know, they’re coming over in brand-new clothes and fully charged cell phones and just being bused in and flown around to wherever they want to go. These people are still sneaking in. So, they’re sneaking in the drugs, they’re sneaking in the bad guys.
Jamila Paksima: So, there’s there are some folks who say that some of the women and children are part of a drug cartel and are being raped and murdered out here. Do you believe that?
Tim Foley: Uh, yeah. Oh yeah. What was it? Two or three months ago, out where we go, I found a human skull. And from the size of it and the size of the remains of the clothes that was there, it looked like a Guatemalan female or a younger girl. And the skull had a crack from its orbital socket all the way back to where the jawbone. So, they were probably attempting to rape her, and she fought back. And, so, what they did is they call it rocking. They just took a big boulder and smacked her in the side of the head and left her to die.
YVONNE LATTY: FOLEY MADE A YOUTUBE VIDEO OF THE SKULL AND HIS UNPROVEN THEORY OF WHAT HAPPENED. IT GOT OVER 1,100 VIEWS.
Tim Foley: That obviously is a human skull. So, I don’t know how somebody would die of exposure out here when right there is one of the water drops. So, this quarter-mile from the border, supposedly somebody died from exposure, which I doubt it. I think that this was cartel-related. So we’re going to grid it, call the proper authorities and let them come take a peek at it.
Jamila Paksima: So, there was only a skull. What about the rest of the body?
Tim Foley: There’s bits and pieces, but, you know, the animals carted away most of it.
YVONNE LATTY: THE AUTHORITIES NEVER CONFIRMED FOLEY’S ACCOUNT OF THIS SKULL.
Yvonne Latty: What drives you?
Tim Foley: Well, back when I was a kid, and they actually taught history and civics in school, which they don’t do anymore. There was a quote from Kennedy, you know, the last true Democrat. And his quote was, you know, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” And it’s always stuck with me.
YVONNE LATTY: FOLEY, A CIVILIAN, HAS BEEN TRACKING MIGRANTS IN THE DESERT FOR YEARS. IT’S PRETTY LIKELY THIS ISN’T WHAT JOHN F. KENNEDY HAD IN MIND.
Yvonne Latty: So, this is a form of patriotism?
Tim Foley: Yes. Yes, it is a great country, you know, and that’s why you see everybody trying to flock here. And the people who are burning the flag or disrespecting the flag, you don’t see them flocking to any other country. You don’t see them flocking to Cuba. You know, it’s nobody wants to go anywhere else. Everybody wants to come here.
Yvonne Latty: What do you say to the people who are like this guy, like what’s he doing? It’s really mean. These people, you know, they’re innocent. They’re just looking for a better life, seeking asylum. They’re being abused and harmed in their in their native country. And here you are chasing them in the desert. What do you say to those people?
Tim Foley: Well, what I say is, you know…
YVONNE LATTY: HIS ANSWER…
Tim Foley: What I say is, you know…
YVONNE LATTY: IS TO CRITICIZE THE HUMANITARIANS.
Tim Foley: We have liberals here that they’re called water droppers. They’re the ones who go out there, open border advocates. They leave food and water out there and things like that. And we’ve been accused of destroying their water drops. And it’s like, why? I mean, we don’t I sure as heck wouldn’t want to die out there of thirst in the middle of the summertime. And so, you know, we leave the water drops alone. And but the only difference I tell people is between us and these so-called humanitarians is we, I tell my guys and you can ask them, we provide food, water and medical aid when we run into them.
YVONNE LATTY: ACCORDING TO FOLEY, NOT JUST ANYONE CAN JOIN HIS TEAM. HE SAYS HE ISSUES STRICT BACKGROUND CHECKS. LAST YEAR, HE SAYS, 256 PEOPLE JOINED HIM ON PATROL. ONCE ACCEPTED, DON’T EXPECT A LOT TO HAPPEN.
Tim Foley: Basically, it’s hours and hours of sheer boredom, followed by moments of pure adrenaline. Basically, we’ll sit up high on mountaintops, on certain mountaintops where we can keep an eye on everything. And you sit and watch and watch and watch. And that’s why military and law enforcement are the best suited for it, because they’ve done it. I mean, it takes a certain person to be able to sit there for 24 hours on a mountaintop. We go out for seven days at a time, but they’ll sit on a mountaintop for 24, and then we’ll rotate.
YVONNE LATTY: FOLEY SAYS HE IS A CERTIFIED TRACKER, WHICH WE HAVE NOT BEEN ABLE TO CONFIRM.
Jamila Paksima: Who certified you?
Tim Foley: You can pay for classes.
Jamila Paksima: I see. OK.
Tim Foley: And so, I’ve been a certified tracker now for eight years, which has helped me a lot.
Jamila Paksima: What’s your dog’s name?
Tim Foley: That’s Rocco. Rocco.
YVONNE LATTY: HE SAYS, ROCCO THE PIT BULL, WHO IS NOW LEANING ALL HIS BODY WEIGHT ON ME, PANTING AND STARING AT ME WITH A FACE COVERED WITH FLIES, IS A GOOD TRACKER, TOO.
Tim Foley: I’ll go out into an area to see if there’s any activity in the area, and if there’s a lot of signs on the ground, then I put cameras out. Once I put the cameras out, they’ll tell me what kind of activity. Is it just dope coming through? Is it bad guys? Is it just regular people, or what is it, how often is it coming? But when I go out, he is my eyes and ears. We’re going up a mule trail. Not a good sign. And Rocco is out here too. Because I’m always looking at the ground and he’s always about maybe 10 yards in front of me. But I can look up every once in a while at him and look at his body language, and he lets me know if there’s anybody around or threats or things like that.
Yvonne Latty: What do you do?
Tim Foley: Basically, what happens then is once the adrenaline kicks in, that’s because, you know, you spot a group coming through, and they’re getting bigger. When Trump was in, they were down to six to eight. Now they’re back up to 30-plus. And they’re all in camouflage. They’re all wearing camouflage backpacks. They’re all poking and peeking. And they’re taking their time as they’re coming in because they’re making sure that there’s no border patrol around. And so, when you spot them, and they can get on the radio and call the base and go, ‘Hey, I got a group.’
YVONNE LATTY: TO BE CLEAR FOLEY IS TALKING ABOUT THE HUMAN TRACKING OF UNDOCUMENTED PEOPLE IN THE DESERT.
Jamila Paksima: So, what’s the benefit of being a member of your organization?
Tim Foley: There is no benefit. The only benefit is, is that you’re not sitting on the couch, that you’re actually doing something to try to save your country.
Jamila Paksima: Are you a business? A 501(c)(3). What’s your status?
Tim Foley: The Arizona Border Recon? Well, we’re just an NGO.
Jamila Paksima: You’re an NGO.
Tim Foley: Yeah.
Jamila Paksima: And what’s your mandate as an NGO?
Tim Foley: Well, we’re just a nongovernmental organization.
Jamila Paksima: But every NGO has a purpose.
Tim Foley: We’re just a nongovernment organization, meaning we don’t pretend we’re part of the government. We’re just an organization. We’re not a militia. You can go on our page. We don’t advocate overthrowing the government. We don’t advocate, you know, I mean, I get Border Patrol that calls me and says, ‘Hey, this militia group is going to be down here this time.’ And I would tell Border Patrol, ‘Thanks, you know, I won’t be out there then.’
Jamila Paksima: So, is Border Patrol is happy to have folks like you helping them?
Tim Foley: It’s a 50-50. 50% are very happy. You know, those are the line agents out there. Then there’s 50% that are like, wow, you know, he’s got to be doing something and then you got the high-ups that don’t like us exposing how open it is because upper management every year gets a, you know, a bonus based upon their job performance.
YVONNE LATTY: THE RAIN STARTS TO COME DOWN HARD, AND WE GO DEEPER INTO THE SHELTER OF THE CAFE.
Jamila Paksima: Yeah, let’s go in. And you’re armed?
Tim Foley: Oh yeah. You’d be crazy not to. I get about four death threats from the cartel a year.
Jamila Paksima: So, what weapons do you carry with you?
Tim Foley: Uh, everybody carries a sidearm. The vast majority carry AR-15s. Myself, I carry a 12-gauge shotgun because, like I say, most of the time I’m out there with him.
YVONNE LATTY: HE POINTS TO ROCCO THE PIT BULL.
Tim Foley: If I run into some or multiple people with weapons, I’m not going to have the luxury of seeing who’s a better shot there.
YVONNE LATTY: FOLEY SAYS HE HAS WORKED WITH MICHAEL LEWIS ARTHUR MEYER, THE HEAD OF VETERANS ON PATROL, A MILITIA GROUP THAT HAS TARGETED HUMANITARIAN WORKERS’ WATER STATIONS AND WITHOUT ANY EVIDENCE CLAIMS THESE MIGRANTS ARE INVOLVED IN HUMAN AND CHILD TRAFFICKING. THE GROUP WAS FEATURED ON SPLC’S HATEWATCH, WHICH EXPOSES EXTREMIST GROUPS. HERE’S MEYER EXPLAINING HIS MISSION AS IT PERTAINS TO MIGRANT CHILDREN.
Michael Meyer: Our job is to eliminate the cartel’s capability of trafficking children through Pima County, Arizona, by any means necessary. I want them afraid, to talk to people over here that want to purchase a child. I want them afraid to meet people who are coming to collect the child. I want them afraid to hold a child in their house. I want them afraid to be pictured walking with the child, escorting a child, driving a child. Making the child pose. All of it.
Tim Foley: He had a beautiful thing going helping the homeless veterans up in Tucson, because people would donate all kinds of stuff to me like sleeping bags and stuff. I would bring them up there and donate them to him. But once he’s… The cheese slipped off his cracker.
Jamila Paksima: What does that mean? Oh, man, the cheese slipped off his cracker? OK.
Tim Foley: Oh yeah. He went just totally bonkers with this child sex camp or something up outside of Tucson. I said, you don’t know anything about this. He started to hate us because we were working with the feds, and I was going, well, we have to work with the feds, the Border Patrol, with the feds are the only law enforcement down here. Because Border Patrol is overwhelmed, and you have the right when the government can’t protect you, that you can protect yourself. And that’s what we’re doing.
Jamila Paksima: But most of these people that you find are not armed.
Tim Foley: Well, I understand that. But we go to our YouTube page. You will see the armed guys that we videotape, they are there. And besides that, you don’t know if these guys until if you stop them, if they got some big rusty blade in their pocket and you walk up there with just a granola bar and a water bottle and go, ‘hey,’ and then you get shanked with a rusty steak knife.
Jamila Paksima: When has that happened to any of the volunteers?
Tim Foley: None. But you’re trying to say they’re not armed. How do you know they’re not armed? We don’t know they’re not armed. So, what why we carry weapons is for self-defense only. We don’t point them. We don’t shoot at people. We don’t do any of that stuff. But it’s better to have and not want than to want and not have.
Sheriff Nanos: Unfortunately, there’s no law against that.
YVONNE LATTY: PIMA COUNTY SHERIFF CHRIS NANOS SAYS WHAT TIM FOLEY AND OTHERS LIKE HIM DO IS LEGAL.
Sheriff Nanos: None on my state law books.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: SHERIFF NANOS SAYS UNTIL THE GUN LAWS CHANGE IN ARIZONA, HE CAN ONLY DO SO MUCH. HE ADMITS TRUMP’S CALL TO ARMS STIRRED THE MILITIA TO COME TO HIS STATE. AND SAYS HIS HANDS-OFF APPROACH TO POLICING THE DESERT IS UNLIKE ANY OTHER SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENTS IN THE AREA. FOR HIM IT BOILS DOWN TO RESOURCES. HE JUST DOESN’T HAVE THE BUDGET OR THE STAFF.
Sheriff Nanos: If I’m going to be concerned about my migrant population, my concern isn’t that they’re crossing so much over lawfully or unlawfully. My concern is their well-being and their safety. And they do put themselves in jeopardy, just crossing without anybody confronting them. It’s a dangerous trek. Now, you add into the mix these group of people who take it upon themselves to try to enforce immigration laws. That only makes it worse.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: NANOS ALSO SAYS MONITORING THE MILITIA GROUPS IS NOT HIS RESPONSIBILITY EITHER. HE SAYS ITS BORDER PATROL’S JOB.
Sheriff Nanos: But if Border Patrol was at the border doing the things that Border Patrol’s supposed to do, secure our border and keep our migrants safe. And as well as keep the community safe and along that border, then this issue would probably go away instead. I sometimes wonder if Border Patrol or HSI if their policies don’t encourage this.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: WHAT HE SAYS HIS DEPARTMENT WILL DO IS HELP A MIGRANT IN DISTRESS.
Yvonne Latty: If the migrants don’t call 911…
Sheriff Nanos: It can help them, and it can hurt them. Right. And it just, you know, it’s just a shame. And like I say, usually they wait till the last minute to call us, and that’s when we struggle with life and death situations.
YVONNE LATTY: JAMILA AND I WONDER IF HE’S JUST PASSING THE BUCK. AND THEN HE SAYS WHAT’S HARD TO DISPUTE. WHAT BORDER STATES LIKE ARIZONA HAVE IS A HUMANITARIAN CRISIS NOT A BORDER CRISIS. AND HE SAYS THE ONES TO BLAME ARE POLITICIANS WHO HAVE POLITICIZED HUMAN SUFFERING AND DIVIDED AMERICA.
Donald Trump: Democrats enacted policies that chipped away our jobs, weakened our military, threw open our borders and put America last. And you have to get your people to fight.
YVONNE LATTY: FOLEY ALSO WAS IN D.C. DURING THE CAPITOL RIOT. HE WANTED TO BE THERE TO SUPPORT HIS LAW-AND-ORDER PRESIDENT WHO WASN’T READY TO CONCEDE HE HAD LOST THE ELECTION.
Jamila Paksima: So, what was it like for you to be there on the 6th to see what was happening at the Capitol? From your perspective.
Tim Foley: Bone chilling. I’m from Arizona and I went there, and it didn’t matter how many clothes I brought, I was freezing my butt off.
YVONNE LATTY: HE SAYS HE WENT TO SHOW HIS DISSATISFACTION WITH WASHINGTON POLITICIANS EXCEPT FOR TRUMP. BUT WHAT HE DESCRIBES WAS NOTHING LIKE THE VIOLENCE THE WORLD SAW ON TELEVISION.
Tim Foley: 99.9% of that rally was peaceful. It was just very loud and vocal. I went around that building about six times and everybody goes, ‘You’re going in.’ I was like, ‘No, I didn’t come here to go in.’ And besides that, I was wearing the Arizona Border Recon sweatshirt that the biggest flag in the world.
YVONNE LATTY: THEN HE DESCRIBES WHAT NO MEDIA SAW DESPITE THE HUNDREDS OF CAMERAS REPORTING THE EVENTS AS THEY UNFOLDED.
Tim Foley: What people didn’t see, and what the media didn’t show, is the huge contingency of the Chinese Americans who immigrated here legally or the Korean Americans or the Black Americans or the Hispanic Americans. All it was, was, ‘Oh, my God, it’s the racist whitey trying to overthrow the government.’ There was over a million people there and ,what, a hundred people went inside? Oh, my God.
YVONNE LATTY: BUT THIS IS WHAT THE WORLD SAW. A NOOSE SET UP FOR VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE, A CAMP AUSCHWITZ T-SHIRT, CONFEDERATE FLAGS, THE N-WORD HURLED AT BLACK POLICE OFFICERS, POLICE OFFICERS BEING PUSHED AND BEATEN, THE DESECRATION OF THE CAPITOL. MORE THAN 800 PEOPLE UNLAWFULLY ENTERED THE BUILDING AND TO DATE 638 HAVE BEEN CHARGED WITH THE CAPITOL INSURRECTION AND AN OVERWHELMING NUMBER OF THESE RIOTERS WERE WHITE MEN.
Capitol police officer: This is now effectively a riot.
YVONNE LATTY: BUT NOT ACCORDING TO FOLEY, WHO SEEMS TO LIVE IN AN ALTERNATE UNIVERSE, WHERE WHAT YOU CLEARLY SEE YOURSELF IS JUST NOT REAL. AND THE MEDIA AND POLITICIANS ARE IN CAHOOTS TO CREATE HATE, NOT THE MEN AND WOMEN WHO CHARGED THE CAPITOL CARRYING SYMBOLS OF HATE AND HURLING VENOM.
Tim Foley: What they’re trying to do is divide the country into racists and get everybody pissed off at everybody else so that hopefully they can get this race war going that they would so much love.
Tim Foley: I’m neighborhood watch, just like in your neighborhood, up in the city. But this is my neighborhood.
Jamila Paksima: Is there tension in town?
Tim Foley: Basically, a lot of stink eye, and they try to ignore you and, but you see, I’m a part of the community, and that’s why I’m trying to get this opened for the community.
Cantina patrons: How are you? Good, good. Hi there. Hi. It was wonderful.
YVONNE LATTY: WELCOME TO LA GITANA CANTINA, THE ARIVACA EQUIVALENT TO THE BAR ON THE SITCOM “CHEERS.” YOU KNOW THAT CLASSIC 1980S AND 90S SHOW ABOUT THE BAR WHERE EVERYONE KNOWS YOUR NAME. THIS IS THE BORDER TOWN VERSION. THE BAR IS AN OLD ADOBE STRUCTURE BUILT IN THE 1800S. IT’S THE OLDEST CONTINUALLY INHABITED BAR IN ARIZONA. IT WAS A BAR FOR THE U.S. CAVALRY WHO WERE STATIONED RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET. IT’S BEEN A DANCE HALL AND COMMUNITY CENTER, BUT NOW ITS A DIMLY LIT BAR AND RESTAURANT WITH A JUKEBOX AND POOL TABLE. THERE ARE ALSO PHOTOS OF PATRONS, COWBOY HATS FOR SALE. MULTICOLORED LIGHTS ARE THREADED AROUND THE SPACE. THE CUSTOMERS ARE AN OLDER CROWD WHO SIT AT THE BAR AND MAKE SMALL TALK. A FEW MORE MIDDLE-AGED CUSTOMERS SHOOT POOL. HAPPY HOUR SEEMS TO START AT NOON.
Yvonne Latty: This is a really colorful place.
Rebecca Robinson: Yeah. It’s a fun bar.
YVONNE LATTY: THE BARTENDER, REBECCA ROBINSON, IS 37, WITH TATTOOS COVERING HER ARMS, AND STYLISH HOOP EARRINGS. SHE IS THE YOUNGEST PERSON I HAVE SEEN IN THE TOWN, ALTHOUGH SHE SWEARS SHE’S NOT THE YOUNGEST RESIDENT. SHE POPS OPEN BEER BOTTLES AND MIXES UP DRINKS AS SHE CHATS WITH CUSTOMERS. SHE SAYS THE CANTINA WAS A LOT WILDER BACK IN THE DAY.
Rebecca Robinson: I think they like to claim how a mother, like, pulled someone’s tooth on the pool table. That’s one of the things. Oh yeah, someone got stabbed out on the patio.
YVONNE LATTY: REBECCA MOVED TO ARIVACA WITH HER THEN-BOYFRIEND. THE RELATIONSHIP ENDED, BUT REBECCA FELL IN LOVE WITH THE TOWN AND MADE IT HER HOME.
Rebecca Robinson: It’s sort of like a micro, it’s like a cutout of the country, I feel like. And it’s sort of like we’re just all squished into this smaller space where we all manage to get along for the most part.
Yvonne Latty: You had problems with the militia?
Rebecca Robinson: Yeah, I mean, they tried to come in here a few times, like while I’ve been working but…
Yvonne Latty: And what have they done?
Rebecca Robinson: They just try to come in here, and I say, ‘no.’ Usually it’s like they’re trying to film, and I say we don’t allow filming on the property, and we don’t let anybody film here just across the board, it makes things easier in that way.
YVONNE LATTY: SHE SAYS THE FOLKS THAT RUN THE MILITIA ARE PETTY AND SPREAD LIES ABOUT THE TOWN.
Rebecca Robinson: 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. And it just perpetuates this terrible stereotype about what it’s like to live on the border. And, you know, people from Missouri and Wisconsin aren’t going to come down here and find out for themselves. They’re going to listen to this hate speech, and they’re just going to believe it because it already matches how they feel. So, it’s just going to drive them further into that belief. And we’re just like the poster child for border issues.
YVONNE LATTY: BUT HAVING FOLEY SO CLOSE TO THEIR SAFE HAVEN DOESN’T WORRY REBECCA. SHE FEELS SORRY FOR HIM.
Rebecca Robinson: He’s just, I don’t know. I just see him as kind of like a sad man who has to make a name for himself. Somehow his ego is like just a little too big.
Fern Robinson: OK, Fred, what would you like?
Fred: Just Budweiser.
Fern Robinson: Budweiser, tap or draft? Couple of 16’s? My name is Fern Robinson. I’ve had the bar, we’ve had the bar, for 14 years. I live in Arivaca because I love the small community. It’s a really good community. People are great. And I like the weather.
Jamila Paksima: Who’s welcome in your bar and who is not?
Fern Robinson: Everybody is, everyone’s welcome. Except if you belong to a militia group, we don’t want you. We like new faces. We like meeting new people. And as long as you’re cool. We can see right through the bullshit pretty much right up front.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: DESPITE FOLEY BEING A NEIGHBOR, IT’S MICHAEL ARTHUR LEWIS MEYER THAT WORRIES HER THE MOST.
Fern Robinson: I think Foley might have a little bit more reasoning, but this other guy is, I’m afraid something bad is really going to happen. Something really bad.
Jamila Paksima: So, Meyer has come in here twice filming?
Fern Robinson: Outside our bar. Yeah. The bartenders that were here caught him before he could even come in.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: THE UTAH GUN EXCHANGE, A PRO-GUN RIGHTS GROUP, DROVE TO TOWN AND TRIED TO HARASS THE BAR-GOERS.
Fern Robinson: They came in several times and were in my bartender’s faces about why they weren’t allowed to come in there here.
Jamila Paksima: And they showed up in town driving what?
Fern Robinson: Some big truck with a fake mounted machine gun on the back. Making a statement.
Jamila Paksima: When that happens, who do you call or what do you do about that?
Fern Robinson: It’s a community. We all get together, and we have meetings and figure out what we’re going to do and who we’re going to talk to and, you know, how far our rights go.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: SHE SAYS THE SIGN IN FRONT OF THE BAR THAT BANS THE MILITIA GROUPS WORKS AND IS LEGAL. BUT WHAT DRIVES A LOT OF THE ANGER TOWARDS THESE GROUPS IS THE 2009 MURDER OF RAUL FLORES AND HIS 10-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER, BRISENIA.
911 Audio: 911. What’s your emergency? Somebody just came in and shot my daughter and my husband. They shot them? I’m sorry just the whole property was just surrounded by border patrol and everything.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: MEMBERS OF THE MINUTEMEN AMERICAN DEFENSE, A MILITIA GROUP, BROKE INTO THEIR HOME LOOKING FOR DRUGS TO THEN SELL TO FUND THEIR GROUP, BUT WHAT THEY FOUND WAS NONE OF THAT, AND THEN THEY MURDERED THE FATHER AND DAUGHTER.
Fern Robinson: They would bring the girls in for pizza and hot wings. Everybody knew everyone. The wife worked at the store. You know, it’s a small community. Everybody knows everybody.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: THE FAMILY, WHICH INCLUDED FLORES’ WIFE AND BRISENIA’S MOTHER, GINA GONZALEZ, WERE REGULARS AT THE CANTINA. GINA GONZALEZ WAS SHOT THREE TIMES BUT SURVIVED THE ATTACK.
911 audio: They told us that…They told us that somebody was had escaped jail or something. They wanted to come look at my house, and they just shot my husband, and they shot my daughter, and they shot me.
Fern Robinson: I knew them. Everybody knew them.
Sheriff Nanos: One of those people was a little girl.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: SHERIFF NANOS SAYS IT WAS A VIOLENT AND SENSELESS CRIME, AND IT HAS STUCK WITH HIM.
Sheriff Nanos: Point-blank shot her in the head. It was — is — horrible. And this was a militia group. They were encouraged, they were lifted up by others in the political arena, and that’s a shame. This little girl was a beautiful child, and she lost her life because of people who haven’t a clue what’s really going on on this border — racist, bigoted people.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: AND SO, THIS TOWN OF ARTISTS, AGING HIPPIES, RETIREES AND OTHERS WILL DO ALL THEY CAN TO STOP ANOTHER MILITIA GROUP FROM TARGETING ONE OF THEIR NEIGHBORS.
Fern Robinson: Let’s just say we got the lights on. We’re watching.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: IT’S ABOUT 5 P.M. AT THE CANTINA, AND NEIGHBORS ARE SHUFFLING IN. DRINKS ARE POURING, AND TONIGHT’S SPECIAL OF MAC AND CHEESE WITH BACON IS AT THE TOP OF THE MENU.
Rebecca Robinson: Would you like a drink? A vodka soda? A gin and soda?
YVONNE LATTY: WE SHARE WITH SHERIFF NANOS WHAT WE LEARNED ABOUT ARIVACANS AND THEIR NEW FEARS.
Jamila Paksima: The community members also feel very much torn because they don’t want to turn people into border patrol. They consider themselves humanitarians. And they’re also scared of getting in trouble for helping another human being who’s dying of thirst.
Sheriff Nanos: And what does that say about our society? I’m so afraid I don’t, I don’t want, I don’t want to help somebody because it might hurt them. That’s a shame.
Jamila Paksima: People are dying every single day making their way into this country.
Sheriff Nanos: Until the federal government decides how they want to handle the migrant situation in a way that’s respectful and safe for the migrant as well as protects our borders, this is going to go on forever. There is another side to this story. It’s not all about politics. It is about human lives. And we are human beings. Everybody struggles in this world. At some point in time, we should be looking at saying, how do we help each other?
YVONNE LATTY: AFTER 20 MONTHS OF THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC CLOSURE ON NOV. 8, 2021, THE U.S./MEXICO BORDER OFFICIALLY REOPENED FOR TOURISM BETWEEN THESE COUNTRIES.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: YOUR STORIES MATTER. IT IS WHY WE BELIEVE INDEPENDENT JOURNALISM CAN WORK IN PARTNERSHIP WITH THE SPLC TO ADVANCE HUMAN RIGHTS FOR ALL PEOPLE IN THE FIGHT FOR TOLERANCE AND JUSTICE.
YVONNE LATTY: HERE’S A PEEK OF WHAT WE ARE WORKING ON FOR THE NEXT SEASON OF SOUNDS LIKE HATE COMING IN 2022.
Kaleb Tucker: The first thing that really made me uncomfortable was having to salute Stonewall Jackson.
YVONNE LATTY: IN SEASON FOUR, WE PICK UP ON OUR SERIES MONUMENTAL PROBLEMS. THIS TIME WE TRAVEL TO LEXINGTON, VIRGINIA, WHERE BOTH OF THE CONFEDERATE GENERALS ROBERT E. LEE AND STONEWALL JACKSON ARE BURIED AND CELEBRATED.
Conor Powell: VMI is a literal playground for the Confederacy.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: LEXINGTON IS ALSO HOME TO VMI, OR THE VIRGINIA MILITARY INSTITUTE, WHERE SOME CADETS, FACULTY AND ALUMNI SAY 182 YEARS OF CONFEDERATE HERO-WORSHIP HAVE ALLOWED A CULTURE OF RELENTLESS RACIAL INTOLERANCE AND MISOGYNY TO CONSUME AMERICA’S OLDEST STATE-RUN MILITARY SCHOOL.
Kaleb Tucker: They were saying I was the N-word, and I needed to leave and was not welcome here.
Jackie Morton: There’s this pervasive culture of male misogyny. I think it’s a breeding ground for it.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: CAN AN ELITE INSTITUTION RAISING AMERICA’S FINEST FUTURE MILITARY LEADERS OVERCOME SO MANY OBSTACLES?
Shah Rahman: You’re hitting them in the face now with these facts and it’s attacking their very existence, their core. Why do I know this? Because it happened to me.
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. AND A TEAM OF DEDICATED JOURNALISTS. EXECUTIVE PRODUCER GERALDINE MORIBA. PRODUCER JORDAN GASS-POORE. EDITOR PRODUCER SAM RIDDELL.
YVONNE LATTY: EDITOR VALERIE KELLER. ENGINEER KIERON BANERJI. COMPUTER SCIENTIST IS WILL CRICHTON. OUR MUSIC IS COMPOSED BY WARNER MEADOWS.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: 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.