- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 31, 2005

Today, April Fools’ Day, the American Civil Liberties Union will show us what a joke its commitment to American civil liberties really is.

Today, if you haven’t heard, is the launch date of the Minuteman Project, an all-volunteer effort by law-abiding American citizens to call attention to the nation’s wide-open southern border. Hundreds of Americans from New York to Michigan to California will travel to the U.S.-Mexico border for a month to monitor illegal aliens and alert immigration enforcement officials if they witness lawbreaking. Call it the mother of all neighborhood watch programs.

In doing so, the Minutemen will exercise their constitutionally protected freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and freedom to petition the government for a redress of grievances. Those would be fundamental civil liberties found in something called the, uh, First Amendment, of which the ACLU is supposed to be the foremost expert and champion. Or so the group and its celebrity supporters say.

In sanctimonious new fund-raising ad campaigns, the organization features the likes of liberal actress Holly Hunter, who asks: “Do you want to be heard without fear? I am not an American who believes that questioning or criticizing my government is unpatriotic.”

Uh-huh. “Dissent is patriotic,” the left likes to preach. Except, apparently, if the questioning and criticizing deals with the government’s abject failure to enforce immigration laws.

Minuteman Project founder Jim Gilchrist has been harassed by open-borders activists at his home. The Minuteman group is reportedly targeted by savage illegal alien gangsters from Mara Salvatrucha (a k a MS-13). Mexican officials lobby U.S. law officials to suppress Minutemen rights to speak and assemble.

But instead of coming to the defense of the Minutemen who challenge our government, the ACLU has warned the 1,000 volunteers it will send monitors to document their activities. Moreover, the ACLU has already threatened lawsuits against the American dissenters for exercising their rights.

Bullying of pro-immigration enforcement activists is no surprise to those who follow the ACLU’s aggressive open-borders agenda — from its support for driver’s licenses for illegal aliens, to its opposing detention of illegal alien terror suspects after September 11, 2001, and profiling foreign visitors from terror-friendly countries, to trying to prevent local and state law officers from helping federal homeland security efforts.

Arizona ACLU spokesman Ray Ybarra argues the mere presence of the Minutemen at the border constitutes “unlawful imprisonment” of illegal (excuse me, “undocumented”) aliens (excuse me, “migrants”). Mr. Ybarra told The Washington Times that the ACLU will have lawyers standing by to file civil cases against the volunteers. He warned the Minutemen could “come to our state as ‘vigilantes’ and end up leaving as ‘defendants.’ ”

The Minutemen have made it clear on their Web site and in repeated statements they “will not violate anyone’s civil rights, and will not abuse anyone from any country. … We will alert border patrol to the location of illegals, and wait for [the Border Patrol] to come and pick them up. We will follow illegal aliens from a distance and continue spotting them until authorities answer our cell phone and/or back-pack radio calls. All spotting, calls for assistance, and the response from the appropriate authorities will be chronicled and provided to any media representative.”

Contrary to the ACLU and mainstream media representations of the group as racists and immigrant-bashers, the Minutemen are a diverse volunteer group including Americans of Mexican, Armenian, Russian, Lebanese, Indian and Cuban descent; and black and Native American minorities. Also among the volunteers are 19 legal immigrants from Mexico, Peru, Russia, New Zealand, England, Australia and the Philippines.

By recklessly linking the Minutemen to white separatists and casting them as outlaws, the civil liberties crowd engages in the very guilt-by-association smear tactics it so loudly condemns. And in putting the protection of illegal aliens’ rights over law-abiding Americans’ civil liberties, the ACLU shows on which side of the border its true allegiances lie.

Michelle Malkin, a nationally syndicated columnist, is author of “Invasion: How America Still Welcomes Terrorists, Criminals, and Other Foreign Menaces to Our Shores” (Regnery).

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