- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 25, 2005

A Texas congressman, concerned about the government’s lack of manpower and resources to protect America’s borders against criminal aliens and terrorists, wants a “corps of civilian volunteers” appointed to help guard the nation’s borders.

Rep. John Culberson, Texas Republican, has introduced legislation to authorize and fund the “Border Protection Corps” for states along the Mexican and Canadian borders, comprising civilians named by the governors to work as sworn law-enforcement officers, alongside state and local authorities and the U.S. Border Patrol.

Known as the Border Protection Corps Act, the bill would fund — through $6.8 billion in unspent Department of Homeland Security first-responder funds — the volunteer groups and the federal government’s cost of detaining and deporting foreign nationals caught at the border.

Pending consideration before both the House Homeland Security and Armed Services committees, the bill also would prevent the government from releasing detained aliens back into the United States — requiring them to be deported or prosecuted if found to be a “dangerous criminal, a terrorist or a potential terrorist.”

“I am convinced in my heart that the country has reached its tipping point on illegal immigration, fed up with the full-scale invasion now taking place, particularly on our southern border” Mr. Culberson told The Washington Times yesterday.

“This bill is a common-sense, stop-gap solution to our border security problem until the federal government has the manpower and the resources to fill the breach,” he added.

The three-term congressman noted that the FBI has confirmed that terrorists have targeted the southern border as a means to gain entry to the United States, and said he is “terrified” they could use that access to “detonate massive truck bombs in many different cities with huge casualties — laughing at us because we let them walk into our country over our unprotected borders.”

“I am going to use every legal and legislative tool at my disposal to see that this legislation is passed, and I will not rest until it is done,” he said.

The bill coincides with a proposal made in July by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Robert C. Bonner, who said the government should work with civilian volunteers to patrol the border against illegal immigration and would-be terrorists.

He said the success of the Minuteman Project in Arizona in April had brought significant attention to the problem of illegal immigration and had done so peacefully, although he feared some volunteers could get hurt if they were not properly trained and supervised.

But Homeland Security officials rejected the proposal, saying there were “currently no plans” to use civilian volunteers to patrol the border, suggesting the job of border enforcement “should continue to be done by highly trained, professional law-enforcement officials.”

Mr. Culberson said his bill provides for civilian volunteers to defend the borders at a time when federal law-enforcement officials have said terrorists from countries with known al Qaeda connections could be entering the United States by “hiding among the flood of illegal aliens pouring across our southern border.”

The bill would take effect only in those border states whose governors call for volunteers to serve, after they have been properly equipped and trained to follow state law.

The volunteers, whose membership would exclude those with criminal records or histories of mental illness, would be required to “take an oath to uphold the laws and Constitution of the United States and of the state.”

The bill also says the volunteers would have the right to use “any means and any force authorized by state law to prevent individuals from unlawfully entering United States.”

“There is an urgent need for boots on the ground, the will power to get it done and the money necessary to fund it,” Mr. Culberson said. “The country is tired of waiting for something to be done.”

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