- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 23, 2006

PHOENIX — The Minuteman Project, which has sent hundreds of volunteers to the U.S.-Mexico border to help prevent illegal crossings, has organized a national caravan to the District to protest weak immigration enforcement efforts by Congress and the White House.

“Too many on Capitol Hill have been bought and paid for with their 30 pieces of silver by special-interest lobbyists who want cheap labor and illegal votes,” said Minuteman Project founder James Gilchrist. “They refuse to see the misery brought about by the massive flow of illegal drugs across the border and the abuse of illegal aliens who routinely die in the desert.

“Our message to every member of Congress is clear: We will remember where you stood in this crucial fight to protect American sovereignty and the safety of America’s citizens on Election Day,” Mr. Gilchrist said.

The caravan will begin in Los Angeles on May 3 and end in the District May 12 — with a stop at President Bush’s hometown of Crawford, Texas, on May 6 to highlight what caravan organizers said was “the president’s lack of leadership in this important aspect of homeland security.”

Rallies have been organized and protesters will be gathered in several cities along the caravan’s route, which include Phoenix, Albuquerque, Atlanta and Richmond.

Organizers said the rallies are in response to marches that drew thousands of people calling for illegal aliens to be allowed to stay in the country under a guest worker program being considered in the Senate. Several thousand Minuteman supporters are expected, organizers said.

The Minuteman Project helped organize patrols last April on the southern U.S. border by volunteers from across the United States and in October in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. Although Mr. Bush dismissed them as “vigilantes” and U.S. Border Patrol supervisors discounted the group’s efforts, rank-and-file agents credited the volunteers with cutting the flow of illegal aliens.

The National Border Patrol Council, Local 2544 in Tucson, Ariz., endorsed the Minuteman Project, saying it did not have “one single complaint from a rank-and-file agent in this sector about the Minutemen.” The council has about 2,000 field agents as members.

“Every report we’ve received indicates these people are very supportive of the rank-and-file agents; they’re courteous. Many of them are retired firefighters, cops and other professionals, and they’re not causing us any problems whatsoever,” the council said.

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger also praised the Minuteman Project, saying the group did “a terrific job.”

“We have seen defiance of the rule of law by foreign nationals,” Mr. Gilchrist said. “We have seen protests across America with disdain for American sovereignty. Defiance of the law supported by protest is outrageous to those who are lawful and proud of America.”

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