- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 22, 2005

Opposition continues to grow in Texas over next month’s Minuteman patrols along the Mexico border with city, county and community leaders looking to block the group from setting up observation posts.

Civic leaders along the border from El Paso to Brownsville have condemned the pending patrols, passed resolutions opposing the Minutemen and called on property owners to refuse them permission to enter their land.

More than 500 volunteers have signed up with the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps to take part in the Oct. 1 operation.

Prayer meetings are planned to help the federal government reach a “just solution” on immigration reform, and white ribbons symbolizing their opposition to the pending vigil are being distributed.

Law-enforcement authorities said the growing opposition threatens to bring violence to the border vigils, which are scheduled to run for 30 days.

Eleven state senators filed a resolution urging Gov. Rick Perry to oppose plans by the Minutemen to patrol the border, saying the civilian volunteers — many of whom are from other states — posed a threat to traffic, tourism and trade.

State Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, who wrote the resolution, said Texas border communities rely heavily on tourism, commerce and the free flow of legal cross-border traffic for their economies and the patrols could “impede the traffic and negatively affect both tourism and trade along the border.”

“I don’t think there’s any doubt there’s a tinge of racism beneath the surface in their attempt to try to stop immigrants from Mexico,” Mr. Hinojosa said.

U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee, Texas Democrat, also asked Mr. Perry to “disinvite” the Minutemen, saying she was concerned that a similar Minuteman event in Arizona in April had given people time to grow “incensed” and she was worried about “deadly violence.”

Mr. Perry, a Republican who also is opposed to Minuteman volunteers in his state, told the state senators and Mrs. Jackson-Lee that he could not block the vigil.

“I fully understand and can appreciate the frustration that many Texans and others across the nation have with illegal immigration,” Mr. Perry said.

“The federal government can and must do more to close the border to illegal immigration,” the two-term governor said. “Until that happens, these kinds of citizen-initiated efforts likely will be the result. If you want to send the Minutemen home, I urge you to make sure we have enough federal agents on the border to secure it.”

Minuteman organizers in Texas are continuing to recruit volunteers and are “forming up ranks to conduct a border watch” to protest to federal authorities what they have called the nation’s lax immigration-enforcement policies.

Organizers said the volunteers are expected to start gathering Thursday in various locations where they will be assigned duty stations.

In Brownsville, the Cameron County Commissioners Court unanimously passed a resolution opposing civilian border patrols, citing respect for immigrants, confidence in federal law enforcement and a shared history with Mexico.

“The safe and legal passage of immigrants and foreign visitors to Cameron County is important to the civic life of our county,” the resolution said. “The future growth of Cameron County depends on the continued good will of our brothers in Mexico.”

Officials in Laredo also voted unanimously to oppose the Minuteman project, saying they were “not welcome here.” The Laredo City Council called on citizens and property owners along the border to refuse to cooperate with the Minutemen, referring to them as “spies” on suspected illegal aliens.

In McAllen, U.S. Border Patrol supervisory agent Julio Salinas told reporters the agency “discourages private parties from taking matters into their own hands.”

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