Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Minuteman Project organizer Chris Simcox is expected to testify before Congress next week, but he’s not good enough to attend a Homeland Security Department press conference in Arizona. On Thursday, Mr. Simcox, who also edits and writes for the Tombstone Tumbleweed, tried to gain entry to the press conference, where Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff was speaking, as a member of the press. As Jerry Seper of The Washington Times reported on Monday, Mr. Simcox was turned away for “security reasons,” according to a spokesman for the Tucson Sector of the Border Patrol, which was acting as security detail for the conference. Apparently, the order came from Sector Chief Michael Nicely, who, by the way, has publicly denounced the Minuteman Project.

Mr. Simcox makes this observation: “[Homeland Security] pulled 50 agents off the line to provide security. While they blocked me, there is no doubt that at the same time, hundreds of illegal aliens had no difficulty gaining access to the United States.” An added irony is that the press conference was about the need for more Border Patrol agents.

Mr. Simcox has filed a complaint with the American Civil Liberties Union to determine if his First Amendment rights were violated. It’s an obvious — but effective — stunt. The ACLU made headlines when it sent lawyers to Arizona during the Minutemen’s vigilance on the border to make sure no illegal aliens’ rights were violated. The ACLU hasn’t returned Mr. Simcox’s call.

In another disturbing story, WMAL radio talk-show host Michael Graham tried to attend an anti-Real ID protest at a public high school in Montgomery County Saturday held by the pro-amnesty group CASA de Maryland. By Mr. Graham’s account, “guards” posted at the gates assaulted him when he tried to enter the rally, which was attended by dozens of illegal aliens. It didn’t help that Mr. Graham was sporting an Immigration and Naturalization Service T-shirt and is an outspoken critic of amnesty on his radio show. The disturbance attracted Montgomery County police officers, who escorted Mr. Graham away from the event. He was later allowed to enter the rally, just as long as he turned his T-shirt inside out. Once again, the police cited “security” as their chief concern.

According to Mr. Graham, Montgomery County is planning on filing a complaint against him for “acting unprofessional as a reporter” (caveat: CBS, New York Times). In his account, Mr. Graham dryly notes, “If only the Montgomery County cops were as interested in the IDs held by the admittedly illegal aliens at the event as they were in mine.” That’s Doug Duncan’s Montgomery County for you. Cops who protect illegal aliens demanding driver’s licenses and who hassle law-abiding Americans protesting such foolishness will rise through the ranks. But questioning an illegal’s right to be in this country looks to be a path to oblivion in Mr. Duncan’s county police force. (In fact, police there are barred from asking someone’s immigration status.) As Mr. Duncan begins his campaign for governor of Maryland, citizens in the rest of the state should keep this in mind.

The good news is that these two incidents will only boost publicity for Messrs. Simcox and Graham’s legitimate concerns about lawbreaking. Both command large audiences sympathetic to their message, not to mention an entire nation of citizens fed up with the government’s lackadaisical approach to immigration. At least, that’s the impression we got from a recent Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll which found that 91 percent of Americans believe illegal immigration is a serious problem. The question is whether the federal and local governments are getting the message.

But that still doesn’t excuse the underlying absurdity: Two American citizens have had their First Amendment rights to free speech and assembly violated by civil authorities for reasons that range from the spiteful to the political. And so long as law-abiding Americans are being denied rights freely granted to illegal aliens, the situation will only get worse.

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