Ariz. Militia Keeps Watch for Illegal Immigrants

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As the battle over how to maintain the border continues in Arizona, some residents have appointed themselves as guardians to keep an eye out for illegal immigrants.

Members of the Cochise County Border Militia patrols the border day and night.

"Trying to find the illegals here is a way of life," said member Doug Evans. "I've had illegals knocking on my front door. I've had drug runners in my backyard."

"You get jumpy when you hear your dogs start barking at night," said Art Tomlin, another member of the militia.

"All we can do is be a glorified neighborhood watch," said Bill Davis, a retired military veteran and crime scene investigator and the militia's leader.

Davis believes the militia is necessary to guard against the drug cartel violence that's creeping closer to Arizona's border. Even with that growing threat, there have been complaints against the group.

"Being called names -- mercenaries, wannabes, rambos, vigilantes, wackos, storm troopers, neo-Nazi," Davis said. "We're not a racist group. We're not a hate group. How can you hate a 26-year-old woman with a 5-month-old baby in her arms that just walked 26 miles with no water?"

It's the work of armed smugglers who are shuttling the illegal immigrants that troubles Davis. He sets up motion-detection cameras, sends out crews where they see potential trouble and notifies federal agents.

Militia members say they are like many other Arizonans. They must deal daily with illegal immigration and are frustrated with the lack of action from Washington.

They hope taking matters into their own hands will make their community safer.

*Originally published July 8, 2010.

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