- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 7, 2005

NACO, Ariz. — Mexican police, humanitarian workers and military personnel are trying to dissuade migrants from illegally entering the United States until after a monthlong protest here against lax enforcement along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The Mexicans are telling the prospective border crossers that Minuteman Project protesters will hurt them when they enter Arizona, and also are moving the migrants away from the zone being patrolled by the protesters.

The Mexican government has been distributing a red flier headlined “Peligro!” meaning “danger,” and featuring an icon of two crossed rifles. The flier warns readers that hundreds of “vigilantes,” whom it says could be armed but are not part of the U.S. Border Patrol, will guard that segment of the border 24 hours a day all month.

Enrique Enriques Palafox, a commander of Grupo Beta, a Mexican government-funded humanitarian organization, said his group wants to protect the migrants and is willing to “terrify” them into delaying their journey.

“We know [the Minuteman volunteers] are armed and our job is to protect migrants,” said Bertha de la Rosa, a coordinator for Grupo Beta, which yesterday loaded pickup trucks with migrants on the Mexican side of the border and relocated them.

A Mexican official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, yesterday said migration from Mexico has dropped by 50 percent along the 20-mile stretch of border that is being monitored by about 200 Minuteman volunteers.

Border Patrol officials have acknowledged a drop in the number of illegal aliens apprehended since the protest began, but said the reduction could also be attributed to the presence along the border here of Mexican police and military personnel.

“It doesn’t matter whether the reason is that we are on the border or that the Mexican government has clamped down on their side because of us,” Minuteman organizer Chris Simcox said.

“The object of our protest was to show that a presence on the border would significantly impact on the number of people crossing into the United States,” he said.

“I think it is clear we have already shown that to be true,” said Mr. Simcox, a newspaper publisher and founder of the Civil Homeland Division organization in Arizona.

Diego Padilla, spokesman for Gov. Eduardo Bours Castelo of the Mexican state of Sonora, says more than 40 Sonora State Preventive Police are working with the Mexican military and Grupo Beta to locate and move migrants from the border areas south of here to Agua Prieta, 15 miles east, near Douglas, Ariz.

Mr. Padilla said the Mexican government wants to prevent violence between the migrants and the Minuteman volunteers.

Earlier this year, the Mexican government distributed about 1.5 million comic-book guides that warned Mexican nationals about the dangers of crossing illegally into the United States and offered tips on how to stay safe. It was published by Mexico’s Foreign Relations Department.

But Mr. Simcox said no violent incidents had been reported during the first four days of the monthlong border protest — a claim confirmed by the Cochise County Sheriff’s Department.

Mr. Simcox also said that 176 illegal aliens have been spotted by the volunteers and reported to the Border Patrol since Saturday, and all have been apprehended.

A Mexican law-enforcement official who asked not to be identified told The Washington Times that many of the migrants rounded up in Mexico were not aware of the Minutemen until they arrived.

But the official said the alien smugglers, or “coyotes,” were aware of the border vigil and collected their fees from the migrants in advance. The migrants are paying the coyotes about $1,000 each to be taken over the border.

Mr. Simcox and co-organizer James T. Gilchrist, a retired California certified public accountant, reminded protest leaders Tuesday that volunteers were not to confront illegal aliens only report their presence to the Border Patrol.

“We’re not here to catch anyone, that’s not our job,” said Mr. Simcox, adding that while there had been no complaints regarding the Minuteman volunteers, those manning observation posts along the border would be reminded of the policy.

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