- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 8, 2005

The number of volunteers preparing to form a monthlong blockade on part of the Arizona-Mexico border in protest of the Bush administration’s failure to increase Border Patrol manpower has doubled to more than 400, a protest organizer said yesterday.

Noting that President Bush this week proposed in his 2006 budget the hiring of only 210 new Border Patrol agents, protest organizer Chris Simcox said the decision “clarified our message” that Mr. Bush has “once again ignored the will of the people.” The intelligence overhaul bill, signed into law by Mr. Bush, had authorized 2,000 new agents for each of the next five years.

“In trying to get this border secured, we have sent hundreds of e-mails and letters attempting to get Mr. Bush’s attention in every possible way,” said Mr. Simcox, publisher, owner and editor of the Tombstone Tumbleweed and a protest organizer. “But he has left us no choice but to do the job he refuses to do.”

Protest organizers have gathered an army of volunteers ready to spend 30 days on the Arizona-Mexico border beginning April 1 as part of the “Minuteman Project” — to highlight what they call America’s failure to control illegal immigration. The list of volunteers has nearly doubled in the past two weeks, with 444 men and women from 41 states set to man observation posts in the rugged Arizona desert.

“We demand that he gives the Border Patrol the resources it needs to secure our borders. Failing that, we are only doing what the president and the Department of Homeland Security have asked Americans to do: be vigilant, observant and report suspicious activity to the proper authorities,” Mr. Simcox said.

The number of assaults against agents assigned along the Arizona border is increasing. Agents on a 260-mile stretch of the Arizona-Mexico border, known as the Tucson sector, are experiencing two assaults every three days. More than 40 percent of the 1.15 million illegal aliens apprehended nationwide last year were caught in that sector.

Focusing on a 20-mile stretch of border lowlands in the San Pedro River Valley, near Naco, Ariz., 90 miles southeast of Tucson, the volunteers will be assigned to ground observation posts, aerial surveillance from 16 aircraft and a communications center to report illegal aliens crossing into the country.

The targeted area has become a high-traffic corridor for illegals headed north because it has water, fairly level ground, places to camp and wood to burn.

“Currently, about 5,000 ‘unapprehended’ illegal aliens trespass the Arizona-Mexico border daily, and another 5,000 invade the United States from the Texas, California and New Mexico borders. That’s 10,000 a day … over 3 million a year,” said James Gilchrist, another project organizer.

The event “will tune the American people into the shameful fact that 21st century minutemen/women have to help secure U.S. borders because the U.S. government refuses to provide our dutiful Border Patrol with the manpower and funding required to do so,” said Mr. Gilchrist, a retired certified public accountant in California.

Mr. Gilchrist said no plans exist for volunteers to confront the aliens, although federal and state law-enforcement authorities are concerned about their safety.

“We are always concerned about civilians who put themselves in danger,” said Border Patrol chief Michael Nicely, who heads the Tucson sector. “It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to picture what could happen.”

Cochise County Sheriff Larry Dever, whose jurisdiction includes the targeted border area, also warned of violence against the volunteers, saying alien and drug smugglers violently challenge law-enforcement personnel on the border, “so I assure you they’ll take on anybody.”

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide