Immigration

Texas Dept. of Agriculture creates website fostering border vigilantism

Texas Dept. of Agriculture creates website fostering border vigilantism

LatinaLista -- It's long been the worry of immigrant advocates and law enforcement that fringe organizations like the Minuteman and other border vigilante groups would take the law into their own hands and kill innocent people.

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That was certainly the case with 9-year-old Brisenia Flores of Arizona. She, along with her father, were murdered by members of the group Minutemen American Defense who thought they would find drug money at the rural home and then be able to steal it to finance their own operations.

Instead, they found a startled family trying to defend themselves. Shawna Forde, the leader of the group and mastermind of the killings, received the death sentence for her plot.

Forde's sentence, in Arizona no less, sent a positive message that vigilante justice won't be tolerated and far from being an asset to law enforcement, is a public safety hazard.

Unfortunately, the Texas state government doesn't see it that way.

Last week, Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples launched a web site dedicated to ranchers and farmers who live along the Texas-Mexico border. Dubbed Protect Your Texas Border, the site encourages rural residents to post their experiences with drug cartel violence and undocumented immigrants crossing their lands on their way into the U.S.

The blatant purpose of the site is supposed to serve as documentation for getting more help to secure the border from the federal government. The site features firsthand narratives, photos and video interviews of ranchers and farmers describing the threats they supposedly feel on a daily basis.

Reaction to the site has been one of disappointment by border congressmen. In an interview with the Texas Tribune regarding the site:

U.S. Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-El Paso, called the site nothing more than a propaganda campaign that contradicts what crime statistics reflect about the Texas border. "The website leaves the impression that Texas border communities are dangerous, when, in fact, cities such as El Paso, McAllen, and Brownsville are safer than most other cities in Texas, including Austin," he said. "Our state is facing a $27 billion budget crisis, and our state leaders are wasting scarce tax dollars to support a platform that portrays rural Texas like rural Afghanistan."

While the site is obviously one-sided when it comes to how some ranchers and farmers see the border, what isn't so obvious to the casual visitor is what is brewing within the forums the site administrators have set up.

It's reported that within the message forums, people are advocating a host of violent solutions to border security. Everything from land mines to booby traps are being offered as remedies to keep offenders on the south side of the border.

If we lived in a day and age where people blowing off steam amounted to only that, then there would be no problem. But this site already fans the flames of territorial indignation and justifiable defense.

Somebody's inflammatory rant could very well serve as the spark to ignite, in a delusional mind, the right to commit vigilante justice.

The site's administrators say they monitor the remarks but want to keep the site as transparent as possible.

That's good. It will make it all that easier to trace back to the source where any border vigilante, who decided to take matters into their own hands, got the idea in the first place.

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