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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Bob Rogers, holding a special edition of The Battalion.
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Attention U.S. citizen, do not defend yourself

I magine you live in a small border town in southern Arizona. Every day on the news, you hear reports of murders and drug violence in the area, and the body count is alarmingly high.
Now imagine that one day, you come across a group of Mexican nationals who are squatting on your property.
This happened to Roger Barnett, an Arizona rancher. He detained the group at gunpoint for his own safety and called the U.S. Border Patrol.
As a gesture of gratitude, the jury ordered him to pay the illegal aliens $77,800 in damages.
This has to be one of the most idiotic cases ever tried in an American court. It makes a complete mockery of the judicial system, punishing a man who made a citizen’s arrest and contacted the proper authorities.
And Barnett was, indeed, punished.
Of the $77,800 he was forced to pay, $60,000 of it was for punitive damages. Punitive damages are charged to punish a defendant for wrongdoing in a civil court case.
This case poses many problems and sets a very dangerous precedent.
First of all, these people were illegal aliens who don’t even have a right to enter this country. How could they possibly have the right to damages in an American court? I’m not arguing the decision was flawed; unfortunately, that’s how the system works. I’m arguing the system needs to change.
Also, the fact that Barnett had a shotgun played an important role in the accusation that he violated the illegal immigrants’ rights. This violates so many legal precedents and personal rights it’s insane. The Washington Post said Barnett’s property “has become a major corridor for armed drug and immigrant smugglers.” That should be enough reason for Barnett to fear for his safety, absolving him of any liability for having a firearm.
Additionally, Barnett has a legal right to make a citizen’s arrest in Arizona. A judge affirmed that right in court, yet the jury awarded the criminals thousands.
This should be a valuable lesson to Americans for two reasons. It shows that the federal government has no intention of securing the border with Mexico, and is in no way concerned about Americans’ rights there. If the government really wanted to make the border safe, it would protect people like Barnett in court. He didn’t participate in any vigilante justice; he told the criminals to stay put while he contacted the authorities.
Secondly, this ought to ruin the romantic view many have of the justice system in this country. It’s no secret that Border Patrol personnel, and law enforcement in general, are stretched thin in the U.S. But until now, most Americans have been confident in the fact that they can at least defend themselves or uphold the law until the authorities can get there. Unfortunately, those days appear to be numbered.
The blatant disregard for American citizens’ rights in this case is nauseating. At a time when the federal government needs its people to be on the lookout for crime more than ever, it has taken away that right.
As icing on the cake, five of the plaintiffs in this case are living in this country illegally. Instead of being deported, they were awarded thousands of dollars from an American rancher trying to uphold the law. This travesty of a court case is disgusting, and the American people ought to take a serious look at the loyalties of their elected officials.

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