Vigilante and the law profit at the border

  Dear HCN,

Having lived in a remote area of Cochise County, eight miles from the Mexican border, I found Susan Zakin's article, "The Hunters and the Hunted," to be an accurate and well-balanced examination of a very serious problem (HCN, 10/9/00: The hunters and the hunted: The Arizona-Mexico border turns into the 21st century frontier). It is one of the best articles on the subject I have read from any source. However, for all of Roger Barnett's outrage, he fails to mention that Barnett's Towing has a contract with the federal and local governments to auction all of the vehicles confiscated from illegal aliens. This includes even lawfully owned vehicles whose owners don't have the proper paperwork to prove ownership. Rarely, if ever, are the owners allowed to re-cross the border to claim their vehicles and most couldn't afford Barnett's daily storage charges even if they were allowed to return to reclaim their property. This is a considerable number of vehicles, which makes Mr. Barnett's company a considerable amount of money. Mr. Barnett is not the only one who benefits from these seizures. Federal and local law enforcement officers are frequent bidders at these auctions, where vehicles are sold for dimes on the dollar.

Nicholas S. Hentoff
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania