- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 3, 2006

BOULEVARD, Calif. — The leader of the California Minutemen says his volunteer organization, which wrapped up a 30-day vigil along the U.S.-Mexico border on Sunday, left the area more secure than they found it.

About half of the 400 participants worked to mend and extend an existing primary U.S. government-built fence along a well-established alien- and drug-smuggling corridor about 75 miles east of San Diego, said California boss Tim Donnelly.

“Apparently, the Border Patrol thought our fence impressive as well,” Mr. Donnelly said. “Late in the day, the BP helicopter circled overhead and announced ‘Thank you for building the fence’ over the intercom.”

Mr. Donnelly’s California crew got the jump on a Minuteman Civil Defense Corps (MCDC) nationwide plan to build a fence all along the U.S.-Mexico border.

MCDC President Chris Simcox has announced plans to build a high-security fence on private land along the border, beginning in Arizona, where he said landowners and construction companies have agreed to break ground on Memorial Day.

“These were ordinary Americans, citizens, taxpayers all, fed up with the government’s refusal to secure the border,” Mr. Donnelly said.

“While the Congress offers up amnesty proposal after amnesty proposal to mollify the illegal masses who have taken to our streets, these voters elected to build the fence in protest.”

Mr. Donnelly said the new fence extends from an existing 12-foot-high primary fence in a region of difficult, rocky and steep terrain that crests at an area known as “the High Point Hilton,” which serves as a resting place for thousands of northbound illegal aliens every month.

The volunteers were loaded into a 50-vehicle convoy to the construction site, where they worked to dig post holes and stretch barbed wire across the desert. The fence site was kept secret until the convoy began to roll and the volunteers were protected by an MCDC security team.

The group was able to complete about 31/4 miles of fence before the project ended, but plans are underway to return and continue the construction, Mr. Donnelly said.

Mr. Simcox is looking to build a fence similar to one proposed last year by a Pennsylvania-based advocacy group headed by Colin Hanna, president of WeNeedAFence.com, who said a “secure, continuous physical barrier” is essential for any comprehensive immigration legislation to succeed.

That proposal calls for the construction of separate fences on both sides of the border, each 12 feet to 15 feet high and separated by a roadway to allow the passage of Border Patrol vehicles. Motion sensors would be buried in the road as part of the project, estimated to cost between $4 billion and $8 billion.

“A fence is not intended to stop immigration, only to stop illegal immigration,” Mr. Hanna said, adding that illegal entry is out of control, particularly across the Southwest border.

Nearly 700 miles of fence is proposed in a House-approved immigration-reform bill, and about 200 miles of fence is proposed in a Senate bill, most of it in Arizona and well-traveled urban areas along the 1,951-mile U.S.-Mexico border. The bills are now stalled.

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