Civil jury fines rancher for try­ing to keep il­le­gal aliens off his prop­erty

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Jerry Seper

An Ari­zona rancher who has waged a five-year cam­paign to stop aflood­ofil­le­galaliens­from­cross­ing his prop­erty has been or­dered by a civil jury to pay nearly $100,000 for a2004in­ci­dent­dur­ing­which­he­con­frontedafam­i­ly­huntin­gonhis­land.

Roger Bar­nett, 62, who be­gan round­ing up il­le­gal aliens af­ter he said they de­stroyed his prop­erty, killed­calvesand­brokein­to­hishome, was or­dered to pay Ron­ald Mo­rales, his fa­ther, his two young daugh­ters and their friend on claims of neg­li­gence,fal­seim­pris­on­men­tande­mo­tional dis­tress.

The jury found in fa­vor of all five plain­tiffs, but split re­spon­si­bil­ity be­tweenMr.Bar­nett,Mr.Mo­rale­sand his fa­ther, Ar­turo Mo­rales.

The Mo­rales fam­ily had sought $210,000dam­a­gesinalaw­suit­spon­sored by two civil rights groups, the Border Ac­tion Net­work and the South­ernPover­tyLawCen­ter,which ac­cused Mr. Bar­nett of vig­i­lan­tism and abus­ing the il­le­gal aliens he de­tained.The­jury­set­tle­donadam­age award of $98,000.

“Thi­sisan­his­toric­mo­ment,”said Jen­nifer­Allen,di­rec­to­roftheBorder Ac­tionNet­work.“Thisvic­to­ry­isjust the be­gin­ning. We can guar­an­tee that­ev­ery­of­fi­cial­whotried­tosweep this­case­an­dis­sue­un­dertheru­gand whos­till­has­the­ca­pac­i­ty­of­bring­ing crim­i­nal charges will hear from us.”

Two other law­suits brought against Mr. Bar­nett with the as­sis­tance of the Border Ac­tion Net­work were­dis­missed.Alaw­suit­filed­bythe Mex­i­can Amer­i­can Le­gal De­fense and Ed­u­ca­tional Fund is pend­ing, nam­ing Mr. Bar­nett, his wife and brother, and Cochise County Sher­iff Larry Dever, in a con­spir­acy to vi­o­late the rights of il­le­gal aliens.

Dur­ingth­eMo­rales­trial,Mr.Bar­nettde­niedthreat­en­ingth­ep­arty,tes­ti­fy­ing that he only took out his AR15 ri­fle be­cause the adults in the group were car­ry­ing ri­fles. He also de­nied ac­cu­sa­tions by Ron­ald Mo­rales that he had in­sulted them with racial slurs and threat­ened to shoot them.

Mr.Bar­nett’sbrother,Don­ald,said inas­tate­ment:“In­theMo­rales­fam­ily, the fa­ther taught the son to tres­pass, and now the fa­ther’s teach­ing thedaugh­ter­show­totres­pass­in­bla­tant dis­re­gard for the law. I guess in this coun­try, private prop­erty and a per­son’srights­don’tmean­muchany more.”

Don­ald Bar­nett had been named inthelaw­suit,but­later­was­dropped as a de­fen­dant.

Mr. Bar­nett’s Cross Rail Ranch near Douglas, Ariz., has be­come a ma­jor route for north­bound il­le­gal aliens. The ranch sits in what CochiseCounty­lawen­force­men­tau­thor­i­ties have called “the av­enue of choice” for il­le­gal aliens.

“Thou­sands of aliens have crossed my prop­erty,” Mr. Bar­nett told The Wash­ing­ton Times in a Septem­ber 2002 in­ter­view at his ranch. “There are so many that I can tell you that at times it looks like a slow-mo­tion in­va­sion.”

Mr. Bar­nett said some of his cat­tle have died from in­gest­ing plas­tic bot­tles left be­hind by the aliens and that some of the ranch’s trails were lit­tered with trash nearly a foot deep.

AformerCochiseCoun­tysh­er­iff’s deputy who later was suc­cess­ful in the tow­ing and propane busi­ness, Mr. Bar­nett spent $30,000 on elec­tronic sen­sors, hid­den along es­tab­lished trails on his ranch. He searches the ranch for il­le­gal aliens in­apick­up­truck,dresse­d­i­na­green shirt and cam­ou­flage hat, with his hand­gun and ri­fle, high-pow­ered binoc­u­lars and a walkie-talkie to com­mu­ni­cate.

His ac­tions have made him a tar­get of alien and drug smug­glers in Mex­ico. Law-en­force­ment au­thor­i­ties told him the smug­glers had placed a bounty on his head.

“This is my land. I’m the vic­tim here,” Mr. Bar­nett said.

Rod A. Lamkey Jr. / The Wash­ing­ton Times

Rancher Roger Bar­nett, seen here in Sierra Vista, Ariz., on July 29, has been or­dered by a civil court jury to pay an il­le­gal-alien fam­ily de­tained on his prop­erty for false im­pris­on­ment and emo­tional dis­tress.

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