- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 8, 2005

A Minuteman-style border vigil scheduled by civilian volunteers for California in August has been postponed until September because of what organizers described yesterday as an ?overwhelming response from citizens throughout California and the nation? who want to take part.

“We were forced to delay our launch for six additional weeks to better prepare in all aspects of our operation and to offer our volunteers an opportunity to participate at a time when the heat could be much lower,” said Andy Ramirez, who heads a California-based organization known as Friends of the Border Patrol (FBP).

“We want to avoid preparing for 1,000 volunteers and having 3,000 show up,” Mr. Ramirez said, noting that the new start of the monthlong vigil known as “Border Watch” is now set for Sept. 16, Mexican Independence Day.

Mr. Ramirez said FBP volunteers — including former Border Patrol agents, retired police officers, military personnel and pilots — have signed up to patrol an unspecified area of the California-Mexico border. He said the delay also would give organizers time “to prepare our headquarters staff and volunteers for the endeavor ahead.”

The vigil has received the endorsement of James W. Gilchrist, who organized the Minuteman Project in Arizona in April that shut down a 23-mile section of the U.S.-Mexico border to illegal aliens. Like the Arizona patrols, the California effort was called to highlight what organizers say is the failure of Congress and the Bush administration to secure America’s borders from illegal aliens, drug smugglers and terrorists.

The California volunteers will be asked to watch the borders, avoid any physical encounters with illegal aliens they observe and contact the Border Patrol when needed, Mr. Ramirez said. He said if President Bush “would stop obstructing the Border Patrol” in its ability to carry out its mission and defeat the pro-immigration policies of the Mexican government, “none of this would be necessary.”

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

Their goal was to show that increased manpower on the border effectively would deter illegal immigration. 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 are going to the border to emphasize the FBP mission of supporting the Border Patrol and its agents and calling America’s attention to the “real plight of our citizens living along the borders who are being overrun.”

“It is imperative to send a message to Washington, D.C., that open borders and the havoc they create is unacceptable to our citizens,” he said. “And our message to the Mexican government is that it’s time Mexico reforms its economy and nation so its citizens can find prosperity at home without being enslaved and exploited in both Mexico and in the United States.”

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