Few cases better illustrate how dysfunctional this country’s immigration and “justice” systems are today than that of Roger Barnett - a Cochise, Ariz., man who is being sued in federal court by a group of illegal aliens who accuse him of violating their “civil rights” for holding them at gunpoint after catching them trespassing on his property.
The illegals, who are suing Barnett with the assistance of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), seek $32 million for civil-rights violations, the infliction of emotional distress, and other things - $1 million in actual damages and $1 million in punitive damages for each of the illegals who were purportedly “victimized.”
One of the illegal aliens seeking to collect his $2 million is Gerardo Gonzalez, 38, described in MALDEF’s lawsuit as a Mexican citizen. No ordinary Mexican, he. Jerry Seper of The Times reported Friday that Gonzalez is also a convicted drug dealer; in September 1993 he was convicted of possessing a controlled substance for sale and was ordered deported back to Mexico.
Gonzalez, whose illegal re-entry after removal under U.S. law would be an additional felony, was among the 11 men and five women detained by Barnett on March 7, 2004 when the rancher, now 64, approached a group of illegals, accompanied by a dog and carrying a gun. The MALDEF lawsuit accuses Barnett of having “conspired” “to hunt and detain against their will, and at gunpoint, Latino migrants.” Barnett counters that he drew his handgun because his 22,000-acre ranch is frequently crossed by illegal immigrants and drug smugglers, and that he holstered the weapon after assuring himself that the trespassers were unarmed.
In an earlier interview with this newspaper, Barnett described in detail how his property had been violated by literally thousands of illegals who destroyed his water pumps, killed livestock, destroyed fences, stole trucks and broke into his home. In reality, this lawsuit should have been thrown out before it ever got to court.
We hope that when the federal jury hearing in Tuscon, Ariz., resumes its deliberations tomorrow (Tuesday), it will reach the commonsense conclusion that Barnett owes zero damages. If anything, it should consider sanctions against MALDEF for filing such a frivolous lawsuit.