- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The Minutemen, an illegal-immigration watchdog group, will begin recruiting members in Montgomery County next month to monitor employers hiring aliens at day-laborer sites.

Montgomery County’s Minutemen chapter primarily will target informal day-laborer sites, but also will videotape activities at formal, taxpayer-funded centers in Wheaton and Silver Spring, said chapter organizer Chuck Floyd, a resident of Kensington.

“They’re using taxpayer money to fund these day-laborer centers, and it’s illegal for them to do that, and it’s a waste of money,” said Mr. Floyd, a Republican who lost a bid to unseat Rep. Chris Van Hollen, a Democrat, in 2004.

“You have the MS-13 gangs, so you have the criminals coming into the area. You look into the prostitution rings, the human trafficking, the slave labor: It’s right here in Maryland,” he said.

The Montgomery County group will be the second in the region to spring from the national Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, which stirred nationwide attention last April when its members began patrolling the U.S.-Mexico border. A Minutemen chapter began operating late last year in Herndon.

Mr. Floyd, a former State Department employee, said his group already has several members and at least a dozen other residents have expressed interest in joining. He is working with George Taplin, founder of the Herndon chapter.

The Herndon group, which last month turned over to federal and local authorities the names of 16 unlicensed contractors who hired laborers, has more than 125 members, Mr. Taplin said.

Immigrant advocacy groups plan to oppose the Minutemen, said Kim Propeack, spokeswoman for CASA of Maryland, the state’s largest immigrant-advocacy organization.

CASA of Maryland runs day-laborer centers in Silver Spring, Takoma Park and Wheaton and is planning others in Gaithersburg and Langley Park.

Miss Propeack declined to elaborate on what the groups plan to do and could not be reached for further comment.

Tony Tomasello, assistant city manager of Gaithersburg, said it is unlikely the Minutemen will affect the number of day laborers who hang out at a church near the city’s historic downtown.

If “the Minutemen want to come and view what’s going on at the current site, that’s within their rights,” Mr. Tomasello said.

The D.C.-based Center for Immigration Studies recently estimated that Maryland has about 100,000 illegal aliens, with as many as 45,000 in Montgomery County, based upon birth records.

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