December 8, 2000

LULAC to seek block on border-area plan

Carlos Byars
The Houston Chronicle

December 3, 2000 - Plans of a North Texas group to assist border-area ranchers in coping with illegal immigrants was denounced Saturday by the League of Latin American Citizens who called for state and federal intervention to block the scheme.

LULAC's state directors meeting in Houston said they will ask the FBI to investigate Arlington-based Ranch Rescue.

Ranch Rescue, which according to its Web site is "dedicated to defending and preserving private property rights," has called for volunteers to go to Kinney County next spring.

A current group flier refers to repairing fences and water lines "and to protect the private property of Texas ranchers against these wanton criminal trespassers."

LULAC spokesman Johnny Mata of Houston said the group "demands that these activities cease and calls for federal and state intervention."

Mata said two young men already have been killed. One, a U.S. citizen, was shot by Marines on border patrol. The second was an illegal immigrant shot in the back as he sought water at a house. In that case the shooter faces prosecution.

State director Aguie Pena of McAllen said that with an immigration officer or observation site every quarter mile along the border "we don't need any further help."

"Not only are they a threat (to border crossers) they are a threat to the local community," she said. "They are talking about coming in armed and ready."

Jack Foote, a spokesman for Ranch Rescue, declined to comment Saturday on whether volunteers would be armed.

Foote said a widely reported comment about "sitting on someone's chest," referred to his own feelings about dealing with trespassers on his own property and does not reflect the position of the organization.

"It is not our policy to do anything on anybody else's property without their permission," Foote said, emphasizing that the organization's primary concern is illegal trespass, not illegal immigration.

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