- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 3, 2005

NACO, Ariz. — Fewer than 100 “minutemen” turned out yesterday outside U.S. Border Patrol stations here and in nearby Douglas for what organizers touted as a “show of support” for the border agents.

Still, the volunteers for the Minuteman Project were undeterred, waving placards and state flags and flashing thumbs-up signs to Border Patrol agents as they left the stations to patrol the nation’s southern border for illegal aliens.

It didn’t matter to the Minuteman volunteers that they were outnumbered by Cochise County sheriff’s deputies, state troopers and local police officers.

“We’re with you, and we love you,” Mary Cartwright shouted to a border agent as he drove out of the Naco station. Miss Cartwright, 25, traveled Thursday from Anaheim, Calif., to take part in the rally.

The volunteers’ placards mostly targeted President Bush and Congress for what the Minuteman organizers have described as the government’s failure to control illegal immigration along the border with Mexico.

Several participants wore T-shirts that read “Flush Bush.” Other signs said: “Illegals Are Criminals,” “Secure Our Border,” “Mr. Bush: Close the Border” and “No Benefits to Illegals.”

The Minuteman volunteers spent most of Friday in Tombstone, Ariz., registering so that they could take up positions along a 20-mile section of the border in Arizona beginning tomorrow — although limited patrols were scheduled for last night and today for those who came only for the weekend.

One of those patrols yesterday spotted a group of 18 illegal aliens entering the United States west of the San Pedro River. Minuteman organizer Chris Simcox said volunteers called the Border Patrol, which responded with three trucks within 10 minutes and took the aliens into custody.

“This is absolutely fantastic,” Mr. Simcox said. “This is exactly what we had hoped we could do.”

Mr. Simcox said the Border Patrol agents thanked the volunteers for their assistance.

At yesterday’s rallies, as was the case Friday in Tombstone, several counterprotesters were in attendance. Among them were “legal observers” hired to monitor the Minuteman volunteers, as well as others who have accused the volunteers of being racists.

Luis Martinez, a third-generation Tombstone native, insisted that the volunteers had come to Arizona to “cause problems, not to solve them.”

He said he expected the Minuteman volunteers will attempt to detain aliens and that, since many of the volunteers are armed, there would be violence.

“They should not have come here,” Mr. Martinez said. “This can only be bad.”

Another Minuteman organizer, James T. Gilchrist, acknowledged yesterday that some volunteers will carry handguns. He said they have been instructed not to provoke the aliens they observe while on patrol or seek to detain them, but to notify the Border Patrol of their location.

Meanwhile, the Mexican government yesterday again condemned what it called “vigilantism” along the U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona, demanding the U.S. government ensure that the Minuteman volunteers do not abuse Mexican nationals crossing into the United States.

Mexican Consul Miguel Escobar told reporters his government “considers it unacceptable that certain people are detaining Mexican migrants.”

It was the same message delivered to U.S. government officials Feb. 10 in a diplomatic note that sought assurances that the civil rights of illegal aliens crossing into the United States would not be violated.

Mexican consulates located throughout Arizona have been told by their government to provide aid to those aliens who claim to have been abused by the Minuteman volunteers, including legal options the aliens can take if they are mistreated.

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