The chairman of a civilian border watch group described by a watchdog organization as a “vitriolic Mexican-basher” who courts white supremacists said Thursday that he was uninvited to speak to an Arizona Senate committee on border security.
Republican Sen. Sylvia Allen had asked Glenn Spencer, the chairman of the American Border Patrol, to give an assessment of the U.S.-Mexico border to the Senate’s border security committee on Thursday. Allen leads the committee.
But after several media outlets reported the allegations of racism against Spencer, he said one of Allen’s representatives called him Wednesday and asked him not to come.
“They pulled the plug on me,” Spencer told The Associated Press from his ranch outside of Sierra Vista in southeastern Arizona. “They deprived the people of Arizona of this hard work and important information to help their elected officials make decisions, and what happens — we’re sitting here looking stupid and insulted.”
Spencer said he spent his own money to film the border from an airplane to show the panel that there are gaps in law enforcement coverage.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, has a three-page online profile of Spencer, in which it says he “may have done more than anyone to spread the myth of a secret Mexican conspiracy to reconquer the Southwest.” The center has been listing Spencer’s organization as a hate group since 2001.
Spencer said he’s not racist and has never courted white supremacists to join his group. He said he does believe Mexicans are trying to reconquer the U.S. and that a “bloodbath” between the two countries is inevitable.
At Thursday’s committee hearing, Allen announced that Spencer would not speak. She said later she may have Spencer speak another time.
Allen told The Associated Press afterward that she didn’t know about the allegations against Spencer until Wednesday and wanted to avoid a “circus.”
Democratic Sen. Steve Gallardo, who also is on the committee and asked that Spencer not come, said it would be unfortunate if Spencer ever does address the committee.
“Glenn Spencer’s message is very divisive and full of hate,” he said Thursday. “We should be basing our decisions on factual information, scientific information.”
Spencer was in the oil industry before he retired in 1992 to focus on border issues, moving from California to southern Arizona and forming the American Border Patrol. According to its website, the non-profit American Border Patrol serves as a government watchdog and regularly monitors the border, mostly by air.