Heavily armed members of an American militia patrolling the southwestern US border confronted a group of people in Arizona on Friday, believing them to be drug smugglers or illegal immigrants. They were, in fact, biologists researching bats.
Upon confronting the scientists, the militia called the US Customs and Border Control. Agents arrived at the scene to discover the bat-counting biologists.
Some politicians and sheriff’s departments in border areas have welcomed help from militias. At the beginning of August, state Rep. Doug Miller, a Texas Republican, credited the militias with deterring immigrants and cartel members. He also praised the 1,000 National Guard troops that Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas) activated in July to join the state’s Department of Public Safety in an effort to combat human smuggling across the country’s southern border.
But Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada disagreed with Miller’s assessment, and said the groups are not welcome in Santa Cruz County.
“These people that are completely out of their environment. They really don’t know the area. They don’t know the terrain. They have little knowledge of the dynamics of the border. So it can be a real problem,”he said. “We really don’t want them here.”
The federal government has also come out against the addition of militias along the border.