Tim Foley, 57, lost his construction job and his home, and moved to Sasabe, Az., on the U.S.-Mexico border, to start his own citizens’ border patrol. Foley calls his group, Arizona Border Recon, a nongovernmental organization, but others label it a militia and scoff at the notion of private individuals, many of them armed, patrolling the border, the New York Times reports. Foley argues that there is a war going on at the southern border, even though the number of apprehensions has declined precipitously to about 409,000 in the year that ended Sept. 30 from 1.2 million in the 2005 fiscal year. He served in the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division before he went to work in construction, where he came away believing that the rules of employment and immigration were broken.
The U.S. Border Patrol operates under a “shift mentality,” their responsibilities limited by time and distance, he said. Many agents are assigned to the station in Tucson, more than an hour away. “When they’re coming down,” Foley said, “they’re being reactive” to an image on a video camera or a ground sensor set off by someone where no one should be. Foley runs background checks on volunteers and verifies their military records, but there is no government or public oversight over who joins his group or any of the militia organizations operating on the southern border. Most of the group’s members are either veterans or retired law enforcement officers. They are volunteers who have been trained to read the signs that migrants leave in the wild — a snapped twig, for instance, or the characteristic print of a piece of carpet glued to the bottom of a migrant’s shoe to complicate tracking efforts.