Tea Party Activists Gather at U.S.-Mexico Border

Nancy Luter, of Tucson, hangs a flag in honor of a friend serving in Afghanistan on the International border wall Sunday, Aug. 15, 2010 in Hereford, Ariz. at a United Border Coalition Tea Party Rally. Conservative tea party activists converged on a remote section of the U.S.-Mexico border on Sunday to show support for Arizona's controversial new immigration law. AP Photo/Matt York

Tea party groups converged on a remote section of the U.S.-Mexico border on Sunday to show support for Arizona's controversial immigration law.

More than 400 people gathered about 70 miles west of Nogales on a private ranch where the steel posts of the Arizona-Mexico border wall are set closely together to prevent people from crossing the border.

Demonstrators attached hundreds of U.S. flags with messages about curbing illegal immigration to the 15-foot posts, and chanted "U-S-A" when spectators gathered on the Mexico side of the border.

One of the messages posted on the border wall read, "Mister President ... Secure This Border For America."

A federal judge has put on hold the most contentious provisions of the law, including a section that would require officers to check a person's immigration status while enforcing other laws if they have "reasonable suspicion" that the person was in the country illegally.

Among those speaking at the rally Sunday was Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, known for his tough enforcement of immigration laws in Arizona's most populous county. He said immigration enforcement goes far beyond the nation's border and the Mexican Government should welcome U.S. border patrol or military forces to go after drug cartels south of the border.

"Don't just say border enforcement, that's a cop out," he said. "Let's say lock them up in the interior."

U.S. Senate candidate J.D. Hayworth, who is challenging John McCain in the Republican primary, also was expected to speak.

Betsy Bayley, 55, a stay-at-home grandmother in Hereford, said she has felt less safe in her home during the past two or three years because increased drug smuggling.

"My government should protect me so I can feel safe on my own property," said Bayley, red white and blue beads strung around her neck as she huddled for shade against the steel fence. "That's my right as an American. I should feel safe on my own property."

Steven Nanatovich, 42, a retired Army Ranger from Sierra Vista, said illegal immigration probably doesn't affect him as much as others because migrants pass through his area to live in communities farther north.

Nanatovich said he supports Arizona's tough new law cracking down on illegal immigrants. He said he can barely leave Sierra Vista without being asked his citizenship at a border patrol checkpoint, so he doesn't find the law burdensome.
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