Former U.S. Congressman and anti-illegal immigration firebrand Tom Tancredo called on Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on Sunday to send the national guard to the Arizona border, where rancher Rob Krentz was killed this weekend, reportedly by drug smugglers.
“Reject politics and do the right thing,” Tancredo said through his Rocky Mountain Foundation. “As Governor of Arizona, Napolitano deployed the National Guard to help the Border Patrol do its job… Three days ago, Napolitano told an audience at Arizona State University that the border is more secure than ever. I challenge her — no I dare her — to come to this community and try to sell that lie.”
Tancredo this weekend was attending a Tea Party rally in Sonoita, Arizona, between Tucson and the border, where national forest country meets the ranchlands of the desert and where human and drug traffickers often run the show.
Tancredo’s appearance in Arizona comes as Washington begins to focus attention on immigration reform. Tancredo has been speaking out against any new proposals that would include amnesty programs for illegal immigrants. In a Rocky Mountain Foundation blog post, Tancredo railed against conservatives who he said were preparing to join Democrats in pandering to Latino voters.
They would “betray the American taxpayer to get a new amnesty for fifteen to twenty million illegal aliens,” he said of a Grover Norquist-backed group pushing a “Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles.”
The Rocky Mountain Foundation quotes Tancredo lamenting that Pres. Obama has halted the construction of new border fencing and ended Bush-era increases in the ranks of Border Patrol agents.
“Now that Obama and Napolitano are talking openly of pushing a new amnesty program, the border invasion has resumed. Mexicans and residents in Guatemala and Honduras read those stories,” Tancredo said. “If Congress takes up an amnesty bill, the flood across the border will be unstoppable.”
The murder of Krentz this weekend puts another name on the tense deteriorating reality of life on the border in Southeast Arizona where, on the one hand, smugglers smash property, kill livestock and rob residents and, on the other, untrained vigilantes take the law into their own hands, often also falling into violent lawlessness.
Indeed Tancredo was linked through anti-illegal immigrant groups to murdering vigilante Shawna Forde, head of a group called Minutemen American Defense. Last May, Forde and two accomplices disguised themselves as law enforcement officers, broke into the rural Arivaca home of suspected drug dealer Raul Junior Flores and gunned him down with his 9-year-old daughter in a failed attempt to rob him.
Rancher Krentz was killed in what the Tucson Weekly described as the notorious smuggling route called Chiricahua Corridor. Krentz appeared briefly in a 2005 profile piece on neighboring rancher Ruth Cowan written by Tucson Weekly writer Leo W. Banks. The piece documents the chaos and danger faced by the dwindling and aging population of ranchers on that stretch of the national border.
In the 2008 fiscal year, Tuscon sector border patrol agents apprehended 317,000 undocumented immigrants, a number celebrated for being lower than past years due to increased manpower. Estimates suggest that double the number of immigrants apprehended make it into the country.
A staffer for Southern Arizona Democratic U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords said she might join Tancredo in asking the Obama administration to deploy military units to the region.