Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas announced at a press conference yesterday that he would not prosecute three off-duty baggage inspectors from Sky Harbor Airport who held the entire congregation at Immaculate Heart Church hostage at gunpoint. The South Phoenix churchgoers, virtually all Mexicans, were detained May 1 until police officers could be summoned to arrest the suspected wetbacks, red-light runners, Medicare-fraud beneficiaries, car thieves and assorted homies.
The citizens' arrest of 800 Mexicans in the church is the largest-ever roundup of its kind. Authorities said it appears that none of the Mexicans at Mass had proper paperwork. Several of the detainees are suspected "coyotes" (smugglers of illegal aliens). Allegations that such a concentration of people with Spanish surnames would also yield a rich bounty of marijuana peddlers remain speculation.
"On the other hand, what are the odds?" asked Thomas.
Appearing at the press conference alongside the newly elected prosecutor, the three Homeland Security luggage screeners said illegal Mexicans are a bigger threat -- post 9/11 -- than the suitcases of travelers.
"We are sick and tired of pulling tweezers, nail files, toenail scissors and other tools of a well-considered toilet from the handbags of nicely groomed airline passengers," said Horst Shultze, a second-generation German who organized the posse of three like-minded patriots. "Spanglish is a direct threat to all of our children. I am not an Ese!"
Shultze said Immaculate Heart was an obvious target.
"If you want money, you go to a bank; if you want Mexicans, you go to church," said Shultze.
This is the second time within a month that County Attorney Thomas declined to prosecute gunmen who held Mexicans. On April 21, Thomas released Sergeant Patrick Haab, arrested after he drew down on seven Hispanic men at an Arizona rest stop on Interstate 8. The Army reservist pulled into the rest stop to allow his dog to relieve himself.
Haab's alibi was that six Mexicans running in the dead of night made him fear for his life. When his dog had the opposite reaction and trotted toward the Hispanics, an alarmed Haab advanced with his gun drawn and ordered all six men, who'd climbed into a Chevy Suburban, as well as a seventh man driving the vehicle, to surrender until sheriff's deputies could be summoned.
While waiting for Sheriff Joe Arpaio's men to arrive, Sergeant Haab said he lectured his puppy about stranger-danger.
Haab explained his terror by pointing out that you normally never see Mexicans running.
"We all know that the mañana attitude is not consistent with sprinting," said Haab. "They were guilty of something. Their running suggested illegal behavior, and where you have illegal behavior, you are likely to have illegal aliens."
"I agree," said County Attorney Thomas.
Horst Shultze said he followed Sergeant Haab's case in the media and got to thinking.
"Those wetbacks on Interstate 8 aren't the only suspicious ones. There are thousands of Mexicans every Sunday in Valley churches down on their knees, begging forgiveness. Why do they feel so guilty?" asked Shultze. "Someone burn the chalupas? I don't think so. They're all illegal aliens."
One of Shultze's compatriots said he was offended that the Catholic rituals at Immaculate Heart Church had been perverted by the illegal aliens in the congregation.
"Look, I'm a good Catholic, I go to church," said Vinnie "Bad Clams" Ianuzzi. "I know all about Mary Magdalene hooking up with Jesus. But these Mexicans have developed this thing for the Virgin of Guadalupe. Now, one virgin, Mary . . . maybe. But two? This is what happens with people who don't speak English."
Ianuzzi and Shultze said they'd been overwhelmed with positive feedback from Arizonans and had set up a Web site created by the third member of their team, a former Saudi Arabian prince, Sheik Yer Bouti.
"The response here in Phoenix is off the chain-link," said the Sheik. "People want to join up. I think they like our patch."
The three baggage screeners incorporated the Totally American -- Republican & Democrat group and Web site a month before storming into Immaculate Heart Church. The organization's shoulder patch is a red circle with a diagonal, crimson slash through it. Inside the circle is a tortilla emblazoned with a toasted Christ.
"We've sold enough patches to suggest that our next actions will be well attended by new members. We are going to go to construction sites, Home Depot parking lots, resort hotels, yard cleanups, all restaurants . . . anywhere where people are working," said the group's sergeant at arms, Ianuzzi. "We are going to lock-and-load until law enforcement does its job and ships these mojados back to Mexicali."
Sheik Yer Bouti noted that the threats from Mexicans here illegally are particularly insidious because they try to blend in by working for a living.
"You put your bee-yotch in a burqa, and who wants to sit next to her on an America West flight?" noted Yer Bouti. "But no one thinks twice about the guy raking your lawn because he's working his butt off in a pair of khakis and a cowboy hat. They look and act like us."
On this point, County Attorney Thomas found himself in full agreement with the TARDs.
"These Mexicans at Immaculate Heart really blend in. You talk to them, and they almost sound like they're Americans," said the prosecutor. "They are pro-life and obviously opposed to contraception, they are anti-gay and pro-traditional family. Quite honestly, they're posing as Republicans. You could be forgiven if you'd expected to find Jell-O instead of menudo in their refrigerators. But the menudo gave them away."
According to United Nations observers stationed on the Arizona-Mexico border to keep watch on the growing vigilante movement directed at illegal aliens, County Attorney Thomas' support of citizen arrests has managed to do something that no human rights bureaucrat thought possible: He has flanked Sheriff Joe Arpaio on the lunatic fringe.
Emboldened by the prosecutor's support of armed ethnic cleansing, groups in Scottsdale and Paradise Valley are complaining about the next likely target: Canadians.
"The snow monkeys are killing us for tee times on the golf courses," said Pat Cucci, founder of Get-Ooout. "And don't get stuck behind one of those Winnebagos from Saskatchewan. They move slower than a thought making its way through Paris Hilton's brain."
Alarmed by the threat of armed nativists, some ethnic groups in the Valley of the Sun are fighting back. Urging brotherhood and understanding, a tong society of Chinese student violinists announced they would perform on Cinco de Mayo in a spirit of solidarity with Mexicans everywhere.
Today these Asian students will visit restaurants throughout the Valley to celebrate the anniversary of the great Mexican victory over the French armed forces in Puebla. Instead of mariachis, however, diners will be serenaded by Chinese violinists playing . . . yes, "Won-Ton Amera-kkka."
Get the Weekly Newsletter
Our weekly feature stories, movie reviews, calendar picks and more - minus the newsprint and sent directly to your inbox.