Skip to comments.Minuteman volunteers heading to border for annual spring watch
Posted on 03/27/2008 5:53:03 PM PDT by SwinneySwitch
TUCSON, Ariz. Volunteers who intermittently stake out portions of the southern Arizona desert hoping to spot and report suspected illegal immigrants will begin another monthlong operation this weekend.
Members of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps will stage their annual spring border watch operation for the fourth year southwest of Tucson, near Arivaca and the port of entry at Sasabe an area popular with smugglers bringing illegal immigrants across the Mexican border. Other group members plan border watches in Texas, California and Washington.
It actually will be the fifth year for a number of volunteers who began with the Minuteman Project in April 2004 an organization started by Jim Gilchrist, a one-time California accountant who joined forces with Chris Simcox's Civil Homeland Defense, then based in Tombstone, Ariz.
The phenomenon of ordinary citizens sitting in lawn chairs or pickups out in the desert looking for illegal immigrants raised the country's consciousness over its porous border with Mexico.
It also helped prompt a federal government effort toward beefed-up border security and was a factor in focusing significant opposition that helped doom proposed comprehensive immigration reform last year.
Within months of the 2004 border watch kickoff, however, Gilchrist and Simcox split and headed separate organizations.
Simcox's Minuteman Civil Defense Corps has nearly 12,000 members nationwide today, but most now focus on dealing with local legislative issues and interior enforcement of laws targeting illegal immigrants. The number involved in border watch operations in the past year has remained static at some 1,200 to 1,400, he said.
Simcox said the calls from his followers to the Border Patrol since 2003 have resulted in close to 14,000 illegal immigrants apprehended.
Arizona remains the busiest point for illegal entries on the border.
Dove Haber, a spokeswoman in the Border Patrol's Tucson sector, said the Minutemen observe and report without impeding law enforcement officers.
The Border Patrol welcomes the assistance of anyone calling to report suspected illegal entry, she said, adding that the Minutemen continually have adhered to appropriate standards avoiding trying to catch illegal crossers themselves.
The director of a human rights organization offered a different assessment.
Are they kicking it off again on April Fool's Day? said Jennifer Allen, who heads the Border Action Network.
Border communities are already trying to hold trained immigration and border officers accountable for human and constitutional rights, she said.
We definitely don't need untrained civilians added to the mix; it makes everybody's job harder, Allen said. We've seen that the Minutemen over the years tend to bring out Yahoos to our back yard who just kind of want to live out their military fantasies ... and they create and fan this hysteria and this fear of immigrants.
MCDC chapters also will stage monthlong vigils near Bellingham, Wash., at Mission, Texas, and between Boulevard and Campo, Calif., Simcox said.
He said he anticipates about 300 volunteers over the month in Arizona, with similar numbers in California and Texas and about 100 in Washington state.
In the past, volunteers have come to Arizona from such states as Maryland, Pennsylvania, Colorado and Virginia. Simcox said high gasoline prices could deter some this time.
Minutemen in California and Arizona have enhanced their efforts to locate illegal immigrants by using thermal imaging cameras on portable 30-foot towers for nighttime viewing.
In Arizona, the state chapter has launched security teams in response to requests, staking out locations on remote ranches to protect property with bright lights, Simcox said.
The Minutemen avoid direct contact with migrants and make no effort to detain any illegal immigrants, he said.
Simcox cited a recent incident in which a ranch security team using a thermal camera saw 10 people breaking into a rancher's home near Arivaca. Our group just lit them up with lights and they sat down and waited for a while, but when the Border Patrol did not respond in a timely way, the coyote just got up and walked away, Simcox said.
March 2008 Operation Update
Look at these numbers!
116 illegal aliens reported
78 apprehended by Border Patrol(as of 3/24/08)
We may not have the tourist attractions, but we have the sightings and a high BP apprehension rate.
The elevated apprehension rate for Border Patrol is due to the proven TBV tactics, excellent equipment and dedicated volunteers.
Thanks to all for making this possible!
'Life may not be what you wished for, but while you are here you might as well dance.'
...Good Americans, all of them, just doing the job George Bush is too lazy to do.
If you want on, or off this S. Texas/Mexico ping list, please FReepMail me.
AZ recognizes the CT permit...
Texas does too.;^)
Oh yeah, they do...
A very good article.
God bless the Minutemen!