Volunteers to help illegal immigration
By Noble Johns
TOMBSTONE, Arizona (BNW) Now that the lie that the Hispanics are the largest minority in this country has been exposed, about 450 volunteers gathered Friday for a month-long effort to patrol the Mexican border for illegal immigrants and smugglers, an organizer of the project said.
Yeah, the American government had been telling the lie that the Hispanic community was the largest minority in this country, representing over 30 million and out pacing the Black community, but what they failed to mentioned is that 15 million Hispanics are in this country illegally. The idea to stop illegal immigration, according to organizers of the Minuteman Project, is for the volunteers to fan out across 23 miles of the San Pedro Valley to watch the border and report any illegal activity to federal agents -- an exercise some law enforcement authorities and others fear could lead to vigilante violence.
Many volunteers were recruited over the Internet and some plan to be armed. Patrols are to begin Monday.
Chris Simcox, Minuteman field operations director, said 450 people were willing to participate in at least one shift in the desert. He wouldn't say how many had registered or had participated in orientation. Others would arrive later in the month, he said.
Jim Gilchrist, a retired accountant from California who organized the project, said earlier at least 100 volunteers had registered.
There was no immediate way to independently verify the count, and it was difficult to distinguish volunteers from counter-protesters, tourists and the merely curious in this town nearly 30 miles north of the Mexican border -- best known as the site of the 1881 shootout at the OK Corral.
Gilchrist said the government has said for decades it's responsible for, and will deal with illegal immigration. "We are no longer in the request mode, the suggest mode, or the recommendation mode," Gilchrist said. "We are in the demand mode."
During orientation, volunteers heard speakers supporting the project, including Bay Buchanan, chairwoman of the conservative American Cause organization and sister of former presidential candidate Pat Buchanan.
"You have accomplished an enormous amount already," she said, noting the effort had drawn the attention of Mexican President Vicente Fox, who has vowed to take legal action against migrant-hunting vigilantes in Arizona.
Colorado Republican Rep. Tom Tancredo, a supporter of tougher border enforcement, praised the group, telling them: "You are not vigilantes, you are heroes in my book."
The Arizona-Mexico border is considered the most vulnerable stretch of the 2,000-mile southern border. Of the 1.1 million illegal immigrants caught by the Border Patrol last year, 51 percent crossed into the country at the Arizona border.
In Mexico City, authorities Friday said about 70 officials will keep tabs on the project to determine whether migrants are abused.
"We want (migrants) to know we'll be on alert to make sure their human rights are not violated," said Arturo Salinas, Mexico's assistant interior secretary.
Human rights activists expressed concern the volunteers may abuse immigrants or get into violent confrontations with smugglers.
"The newspapers and the TV cameras are hoping something will go wrong and somebody will get hurt or somebody will do something stupid and that will draw attention," said Robert Ordway from nearby Sierra Vista. "That ain't going to happen. We're not here to do that. We are here to support the Border Patrol, support the laws of the country and that's what we're after."
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