- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 4, 2005

Civilian volunteers scheduled to begin a border vigil in California next month will man observation posts along the U.S.-Mexico border until they are relieved by newly hired U.S. Border Patrol agents or National Guard troops, an organizer said yesterday.

“Our borders are not under the operational control of our government. Instead, they are controlled by alien and drug smugglers,” said Andy Ramirez, head of the California-based Friends of the Border Patrol (FBP), which has organized the vigil.

“Our mission is to provide a safe living environment for our local citizens until the U.S. government provides the security for which it is responsible,” Mr. Ramirez said. “The FBP volunteers will stand their posts until properly relieved.”

More than 3,000 civilian volunteers — including former Border Patrol agents, retired police officers, military personnel and pilots — have signed up to patrol the U.S.-Mexico border in California beginning Sept. 16 — Mexican Independence Day.

The vigil was called to highlight what organizers said is the failure of Congress and the White House to secure U.S. borders.

The volunteers are expected to set up observation posts near Calexico, Calif., in an area known as Smuggler’s Gulch, and at the Border Field State Park, just north of Tijuana, Mexico. The exact locations of all the sites and patrol areas have not been made public.

The vigil has received the endorsement of James W. Gilchrist, who organized the Minuteman Project in Arizona in April that targeted a 23-mile section of the U.S.-Mexico border. He said the U.S. government has failed to do anything about what he termed a “border crisis.”

“President Bush … says the most solemn duty of the American president is to protect the American people: Mr. Bush, tell it to someone else,” he said. “You are derelict of your constitutional oath and duty to protect us by leaving our borders unsecured.”

A total of 857 volunteers participated in the 30-day Minuteman vigil, during which they protested lax U.S. immigration-enforcement policies by trying to reduce the flow of illegal aliens along popular immigration and drug-smuggling corridors near Naco, Ariz.

Their goal was to show that increased manpower on the border effectively would deter illegal entry. Organizers said the protest directly resulted in Border Patrol arrests of 349 illegal aliens. Border Patrol field agents said the flow of illegal aliens through the targeted area dropped from 500 apprehensions a day to about 15 a day.

Mr. Ramirez said the California volunteers want to call the country’s attention to the “real plight of those who live along the border who are being overrun by illegal aliens and drug smugglers.” He said it was “imperative to send a message to Washington, D.C., that open borders and the havoc they create is unacceptable to our citizens.”

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