- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 15, 2005

More than 1,000 volunteers are expected to take part in a monthlong vigil on the Arizona-Mexico border in what organizers said yesterday will be a peaceful protest of the government’s failure to control illegal immigration, complete with guidelines on how to avoid confrontations and handle the press.

“This call for volunteers is not a call to arms, but a call to voices seeking a peaceful and respectable resolve to the chaotic neglect by members of our local, state and federal governments charged with applying U.S. immigration law,” said James Gilchrist, organizer of the so-called “Minuteman Project” border vigil set to begin April 1.

About 700 volunteers are expected at opening-day rallies, with more joining as the vigil continues through April 30 near U.S. Border Patrol stations in Naco, Ariz., and Douglas, Ariz. Volunteers have been told to let the agents know that “we appreciate their efforts.”

The volunteers will operate under guidelines issued by the border-vigil organizers calling for them not to spark confrontations with any outside protesters or create negative press coverage. The volunteers have been told that some people will try to provoke confrontations, and they should not react.

They also have been told to be “careful” what they say to members of the press, because “they can be the enemy.”

“Give them no reason to use a sound bite that will cleverly be used to make you look bad,” one of the guidelines says.

“If there are opposition protesters, you can send them a message by ignoring them. Wave, smile and ignore all idiots ” let them make fools of themselves, but do not stoop to their level of ignorance. Let the media show them as the aggressors. This is a peaceful protest,” said another guideline.

According to the guidelines, volunteers will not be permitted to carry rifles, but will be allowed to carry handguns if they are licensed to do so. An operational plan calls for teams of four to six persons, assigned at intervals of 200 to 300 yards, to be deployed along a 20-mile stretch of the border known as the San Pedro River Valley.

The plan also calls for the volunteers to go no closer to the border than one mile, and they have been told to make “lots of noise and burn campfires at night to be very visible.”

Mr. Gilchrist said the protest mission is to observe and report only, and there would be no attempt to detain any illegal aliens. He said because the Minuteman Project is aimed at deterring border crossers, he expects alien smugglers to avoid the targeted area and cross elsewhere to the east and west ” proving that “a real presence on the border” can deter illegal immigration.

Another protest organizer, Chris Simcox, has warned the volunteers to be respectful of the Mexican government and to direct their comments about a lack of immigration enforcement towards President Bush and Congress.

“There is only one way to stop the invasion, and that is for our government to do its job and seal the border,” he said.

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