AZ lawmaker praises ‘hate group’ during vote to give its leader $18 million for border control

By David Edwards
Thursday, March 27, 2014 13:13 EDT
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Arizona state Sen. Al Melvin (KTRK)
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A Republican candidate for governor in Arizona told people that they should side with an organization that experts have labeled a “hate group” while he was pushing for a border security bill.

During a vote in the Senate Appropriations Committee, Arizona state Sen. Al Melvin (R) argued that legislation to create a “virtual fence” along the Mexico border was necessary, and a group called the American Border Patrol had developed technology to support it.

“We are a border state. The border leaks like a sieve,” Melvin said, according to a transcript provided by Talking Points Memo. “It’s our responsibility to do all that we can in a reasonable manner to stem the leaking like a sieve at the border. We owe it to our fellow citizens.”

“There’s other technology — sensing cables. There’s a company in Cochise County, the American Border Patrol, I would encourage people to look at that website. We can’t just stand by and let this continue,” he continued. “We as a state have to take a stand.”

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), the American Border Patrol is “one of the most virulent anti-immigrant groups around.”

The SPLC notes that videos produced and published by the American Border Patrol “push racist, anti-Latino conspiracy theories,” including the claim that there is a “Mexican plot to break the Southwestern states away.”

KTVK asked Melvin earlier this week why he wanted to funnel millions of dollars in border control money to man who runs a “hate group.”

“I believe he’s a patriot and he’s trying to help the United States secure the border,” the lawmaker said of American Border Patrol leader Glenn Spencer.

He estimated that taxpayers would need to spend at least $18.5 million on equipment to build the virtual fence, not including prison labor.

Melvin’s photo along with an article threatening legal action against the SPLC appeared on the front page American Border Patrol website on Thursday morning.

Raw Story found at least 15 other mentions of Melvin on the group’s website. An American Border Patrol employee told Raw Story that he was not aware of any legal action against the SPLC. And Spencer did not return calls by the time of publication.

Watch the video below from March 25, 2104.

Watch the video below from KTVK, broadcast March 26, 2014.

David Edwards
David Edwards
David Edwards has served as an editor at Raw Story since 2006. His work can also be found at Crooks & Liars, and he's also been published at The BRAD BLOG. He came to Raw Story after working as a network manager for the state of North Carolina and as as engineer developing enterprise resource planning software. Follow him on Twitter at @DavidEdwards.
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