- The Washington Times - Friday, September 30, 2005

More than 4,000 civilian volunteers are expected to man observation posts beginning today on the Mexican border from Texas to California and in states along the Canadian border in a new Minuteman protest of immigration-enforcement policies they consider lax.

Chris Simcox, who heads the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, yesterday said the organization has “greatly expanded” since a similar but limited vigil in Arizona in April to help secure the nation’s border against illegal entry.

“The risk of terrorists and criminals entering this country through our wide open borders is at a critical level,” Mr. Simcox said. “When the government fails to fulfill its primary duty and protect this nation, it is up to self-governing people to step into the breach.

“Americans have historically organized and done what is necessary to defend this country. Today is no different,” he said.

Mr. Simcox said members of the Vietnam Veterans and Gulf War Coalition and Rolling Thunder will join in the operation, known as “Secure Our Borders.”

Participants will report to the U.S. Border Patrol but will not detain those attempting to illegally cross into the United States. They will be deployed in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, as well as border regions of Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Washington, Idaho, Montana and North Dakota.

Mr. Simcox, founder of the Civil Homeland Defense Corps in Arizona, coordinated the “Minuteman Project” border vigil that is credited with shutting down a 23-mile stretch of the U.S.-Mexico border to illegal immigration in April.

In Arizona, 850 volunteers stood watch near Naco to reduce the flow of illegal aliens in one of the nation’s most-traveled immigration corridors. Their goal was to show that increased manpower on the border would effectively deter illegal immigration. During the 30-day vigil, apprehensions by Border Patrol agents in the targeted area dropped from more than 500 a day to fewer than 15.

Although Department of Homeland Security and Border Patrol supervisors in Arizona discounted the Minuteman efforts, saying apprehension totals declined because the Mexican government deployed military and police south of the targeted area, field agents said the volunteers cut the flow of illegal aliens.

Before the April vigil, Minuteman critics contended the group consisted of anti-immigration racists who would violently confront border crossers. That did not occur.

The National Border Patrol Council, Local 2544, in Tucson, Ariz., also endorsed the Minuteman Project, saying its members — about 2,000 field agents — did not have “one single complaint from a rank-and-file agent in this sector about the Minutemen.”

“Every report we’ve received indicates these people are very supportive of the rank-and-file agents. They’re courteous. Many of them are retired firefighters, cops and other professionals, and they’re not causing us any problems whatsoever,” the council said.

Residents in the area also thanked the Minutemen in a full-page newspaper ad “for doing what our government won’t — close the border to illegal aliens.”

Since its Arizona beginnings, the Minuteman organization has mounted a national campaign, hiring lawyers, organizing into separate corporations, hiring a District-based public relations firm and beginning a vigorous fundraising effort. Its leadership also has actively lobbied members of Congress for immigration reform.

“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 said, describing his group’s message to the government. “But we’re done waiting for the government to do the job of securing our borders.”

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