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Even though she said the organization’s 2010 standard operating procedures were legal, she was concerned that “one bad apple” could destroy everything the organization has worked to achieve along the border over the past several years. Since its founding in April 2005, there has not been an incident along the border involving the MCDC volunteers and illegal immigrants.

Although the responses were overwhelmingly positive, she said, it was obvious that “many had decided to return to the border who had tired of the sometimes futile watch-and-observe methods. It showed me that people are not willing to be silenced anymore; it also showed me that people will be less likely to follow the rules of engagement in a desperate attempt to stop the criminals who violate our borders every day.

“That is not what we want, and we cannot take the responsibility for this,” she said.

Federal border enforcement officials did not comment specifically about the disbanding of MCDC but released a statement suggesting that they will not be unhappy to see the group go.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection “does not endorse or support any private group or organization from taking matters into their own hands, as it could have disastrous personal and public safety consequences,” CBP spokesman Steven Cribby said. “CBP appreciates the efforts of concerned citizens as they act as our eyes and ears, but it is important that they leave the enforcement to us.”

Ms. Mercer, a Tombstone, Ariz., restaurant owner, said that although MCDC was dissolving, the organization’s chapters and various offshoot groups would continue to organize border watches. She blamed Republican lawmakers such as Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina for offering to work with Mr. Obama on immigration policy and weakening border controls.

Messages left Monday seeking comment from the offices of Mr. McCain and Mr. Graham were not returned.