Saturday, September 29, 2007

Civilian volunteers who broke from the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps (MCDC) over questions of financial accountability will begin their own border vigil today, setting up observation posts near Palominas, Ariz., to spot and report illegal aliens.

The Patriots’ Border Alliance (PBA), whose leadership includes former MCDC organizers who said they were fired after asking for a meeting with Minuteman co-founder Chris Simcox to discuss finances, will spend 30 days on the U.S.-Mexican border in what has been described as the country’s most popular alien- and drug-smuggling corridor.

“Your patriotic spirit and dedication to country is the backbone of our operations and movement,” PBA Chairman Bob Wright said in a letter to volunteers. “This month, we present a forum in which all Minutemen are welcome to operate as one voice, within one movement, with one goal.”

Mr. Wright, former MCDC deputy executive director, said the volunteers will seek to locate illegal aliens and other illegal activity to report to the U.S. Border Patrol. This is the PBA’s first 30-day operation since its inception earlier this year.

Joining in the vigil is James Gilchrist, who co-founded the Minuteman Project and set up its first border watches in April 2005, and Glenn Spencer, president of the American Border Patrol, a private organization that uses high-tech equipment to highlight what it calls the “crisis of illegal immigration.”

Many of the PBA’s top officers were purged from MCDC in May after they said they raised questions about how much money the Minuteman organization had raised and how it had been spent.

In a letter at the time to Mr. Simcox, the group said MCDC financial information should be turned over to local and state chapters, that long-standing requests for financial information had gone unanswered, that MCDC chapters were not getting promised resources and that reimbursements for out-of-pocket expenditures were not being made in a timely manner, if at all.

Mr. Simcox denied the accusations, saying yesterday that many members of the PBA were terminated from MCDC for “purposefully undermining the national operations” of the organization, and that others “failed in their roles as national directors … fixated on a conspiracy theory that our finances are not in order, and voluntarily tucked their tails between their legs and quit.”

He said no one was fired for questioning MCDC finances, adding that the organization has turned to an independent auditor and will “openly share” its federal financial reports to “prove to the nation that we are responsible stewards of the donations and MCDC finances.”

Mr. Simcox also said that while the PBA’s operational procedures are in violation of county ordinances in Arizona, “We wish them luck. We continue with our extremely successful mission of ensuring our borders are secured.”

MCDC began its semiannual fall border watch operations yesterday in Arizona, California, Texas and Washington state, which will continue through Oct. 28.

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