- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 11, 2005

The Minuteman Civil Defense Corps — which is planning vigils in October on the Mexican and Canadian borders to protest lax immigration-enforcement policies — has begun limited operations in Arizona and Texas in the wake of relief efforts for Hurricane Katrina.

“Border Patrol agents are in the area affected by Katrina to provide security and law-enforcement support,” said Minuteman founder Chris Simcox. “This shift in personnel away from the border to New Orleans and other affected areas leaves our country vulnerable to increased trafficking by illegal aliens and terrorists attempting to enter the United States.”

Mr. Simcox, publisher of a Tombstone, Ariz., newspaper, said Minuteman civilian volunteers — as part of an operation known as “Secure Our Borders” — have been deployed “to fill gaps in border security as U.S. Border Patrol agents are reassigned to disaster-relief duty.”

More than 100 Border Patrol agents have been sent to assist in Katrina relief efforts, asked to provide search, rescue, evacuation, law-enforcement and communications support to the hurricane-ravaged areas of New Orleans and elsewhere on the Gulf Coast.

Two teams of Border Patrol Tactical Unit agents also are working in conjunction with the New Orleans Police Department to establish and maintain civil order — using 16 helicopters and airplanes in a variety of support missions.

Mr. Simcox, co-organizer of the Minuteman Project in Arizona in April that shut down a 23-mile section of the U.S.-Mexico border to illegal aliens, said thousands of National Guard troops also had been mobilized.

He said President Bush’s decision to ask U.S. Customs and Border Protection to provide manpower to Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts and to send Border Patrol agents and National Guard troops had some border-state residents nervous about the lack of border security.

“We are mobilizing volunteers to stand in the breach along our border,” Mr. Simcox said. “While the federal government is responding to the natural disaster and its aftermath of lawlessness and human suffering, we will assist by sending Minuteman volunteers to protect and defend our borderline in assistance to an already understaffed and embattled U.S. Border Patrol.

“We weren’t expecting this sudden need,” he said. “There’s no way to plan for such a time as this, but nevertheless, we must take action now.”

In April, 857 civilian volunteers participated in a 30-day Arizona vigil organized by Mr. Simcox, protesting the government’s immigration-enforcement policies. Their goal was to show that increased manpower on the border would deter illegal immigration.

Organizers said the protest resulted in the arrest by the Border Patrol of 349 illegal aliens, and Border Patrol field agents said the flow of illegal aliens through the targeted area near Naco, Ariz., dropped from 500 apprehensions a day to about 15 a day.

Border Patrol supervisors discounted the Minuteman efforts, saying a drop in apprehensions was because of Mexico’s deployment of military and police south of the targeted area and increased Border Patrol manpower in the state.

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