According to the L.A. Times, more than half of the 1.1 million illegal immigrants apprehended by the Border Patrol last year crossed at the Arizona border. The state ranks fifth in the number of illegal immigrants. So a group of volunteers called the Minuteman Project decided to help out and guard the 2,000-mile Arizona border itself. And the group's allowed to carry guns.
This is trouble waiting to happen.
On April 4, the first day of patrol, one project volunteer said, "If we see any immigrants, we'll first radio someone, and then call Border Patrol." Another said, "We can ask them if they'll wait but we can't touch them." (Washington Post, April 5, 2005, "In Ariz., 'Minuteman' Start Border Patrols")
Yeah. And I make $1,000,000 a year.
This is probably the first and only time I'll say this, but I agree with President Bush on this one. He calls the Minuteman Project "vigilantes." Last month, Bush said: "I'm against vigilantes in the United States of America. I'm for enforcing law in a rational way. That's why you got a Border Patrol, and they ought to be in charge of enforcing the border."
According to the L.A. Times, the group has made a huge change in the number of immigrants crossing at the Arizona border. Enrique Enriquez, a member of Grupo Beta, Mexico's agency dedicated to protecting the health of immigrants, said more than 400 people a day walk along the trails at that border. But news of the Minutemen's arrival, mixed with the attention in Mexico, has cut the traffic to a few dozen a day. (L.A. Times, April 4, 2005, "A Roadblock, Not a Barrier for Migrants")
Also, the Bush administration said it deployed more than 500 additional Border Patrol agents to Arizona to deter illegal immigrants from crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. And Mexico sent additional migrant-aid agents to its side of the border with Arizona.
In the L.A. Times last week, Ruben Valenzuela, a Mexican state policeman at a checkpoint near Agua Prieta (across from Douglas, Ariz.) was quoted with: "Well, (the Minuteman Project) will only stop the immigration for a short time and then it will start again."
And I see that the Minuteman Project didn't even show respect to an illegal immigrant detained recently. Last week, Tribune news services reported that three Minuteman Project volunteers took a photo an illegal immigrant holding a T-shirt that read: "Bryan Barton caught an illegal alien and all I got was this lousy T-shirt."
A message to all Minuteman volunteers--if showing disrespect is the only thing you know how to do, then I suggest you go home. And let the Border Patrol do its job.