- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 12, 2005

Minuteman Project organizer Chris Simcox told a House committee yesterday that Americans are tired of waiting for the government to secure the nation’s borders and that he and other civilian volunteers will continue efforts to shut down the flow of illegal aliens into the United States.

“We’ve written letters, sent faxes and e-mails, made countless calls and held town hall meetings about what is not just a public safety issue but a national security concern,” Mr. Simcox told members of the House Government Reform Committee. “But we’re done waiting for you to do the job of securing our borders.

“While you’re making up your mind about what to do, we’re going to continue our Minuteman vigils,” he said. “We intend to defend our property and our country.”

Mr. Simcox, publisher of a Tombstone, Ariz., newspaper and founder of the Civil Homeland Defense Corps in Arizona, said the success of the Minuteman Project in the state led to an “outpouring of support and volunteerism” from across the country — with more than 15,000 people offering to man border observation posts this fall from California to Texas.

He said Congress had to consider putting National Guard or U.S. military troops on the border or significantly increasing the number of Border Patrol agents to deal with the threat of illegal aliens, drug smugglers and terrorists.

“I invite you to come out to our border on any given day and I will show you firsthand the lack of homeland security,” he said.

His comments came after U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Robert C. Bonner testified that protecting U.S. borders was a matter of national security and that he needed more Border Patrol agents and increased technology to get the job done.

Mr. Bonner declined to give an estimate on the number of agents required, but said it would be “in the thousands.” The Border Patrol has 10,700 agents spread along 8,000 miles of U.S. border.

“We hope to gain operational control of the border, meaning there is a high level of probability you will get caught trying to sneak into the United States,” he said. “I’m not saying we have the border under control, because we don’t and we have a long way to go.”

But Mr. Bonner praised a border control initiative in Arizona, saying it was beginning to make a difference in efforts by the agency to prevent terrorists and terrorist weapons from entering the country by reducing the flow of illegal aliens and disrupting smuggling operations.

In his first public mention of the Minuteman Project, Mr. Bonner said the volunteers brought significant press attention to illegal immigration, called those who participated “well-motivated” and said he “values citizen help.” He also said he was “grateful” that there were no incidents of violence during the border vigil.

“The Border Patrol historically has valued the support of citizens, which can be particularly important in rural areas of the border,” he said. “We’re trying to determine if there is a way to more effectively harness citizen volunteers. We are concerned about people getting unnecessarily hurt or killed in what can be a very dangerous and treacherous place.”

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