On Saturday, when the other, more ordinary candidates for the Texas House of Representatives were probably making campaign calls or hanging out with their lame families, Arlington Republican Tony Tinderholt appeared to be on a bolder mission.
Dressed in camouflage gear, Tinderholt posed for three photographs posted to Facebook Saturday night under the caption, "On patrol, catching illegal immigrants tonight!"
He was on a private ranch, he tells Unfair Park, with Texas Border Volunteers, a group that takes a D.I.Y approach to fighting illegal immigration. But he realized after he arrived there would be no actual "catching" involved.
"I thought they were actually catching illegal immigrants, but they're not. What they're doing is identifying and tracking criminal trespassers on private property ranches," he tells Unfair Park.
Not that Tinderholt was expecting to put the trespassers in cuffs himself. But he thought the volunteers would stop the trespassers directly, offer them some water, explain to them that "this is not fun" and call the authorities.
"I thought they would actually have face-to-face time with these people," he adds. "They don't do that all."
After realizing his error, Tinderholt went back on Facebook and changed the verbiage in his album from "catching" to "tracking."
He worked an estimated 8-hour shift, during which he spotted four trespassers. The volunteers called the authorities. What happened next is anyone's guess.
"We finished up our shift and went back, but Border Patrol was still looking for them when we left."
Tinderholt defeated District 94 incumbent Diane Patrick in the Republican primary and will face Democrat Cole Ballweg in the general election this November. He's been running on a far-right platform, aligning himself with the Tea Party and pushing border security as one of his key issues.
He's careful to point out that he feels sympathetic to the plight of the immigrants themselves, and insists that his weekend mission wasn't mean-spirited. "Some of these ranchers are very humanitarian and want to make sure these people aren't dying, but also want to make sure they're caught and sent back to their own country," he says. "I wish people would be positive about the fact that you have legislators that want to learn about this."
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.