MINUTEMEN VOLUNTEERS READY TROOPS
Non-Violent Citizens Will Monitor Border
By Christopher Bollyn
Patriotic volunteers are responding to a call from the Arizona-based Minuteman Project to help defend America’s border with Mexico the month of October. During the entire month, thousands of citizens are planning to participate in a non-violent exercise to observe and report illegal border crossings from Texas to California.
The Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, based in Tombstone near the Mexican border, is a non-violent, law-abiding and humanitarian organization with a strict code of ethics and behavior. Two of the primary rules clearly laid out in the group’s code of conduct are to avoid any contact with the undocumented migrants spotted crossing the border and to avoid the use of weapons, which may only be carried for self-defense.
“We’re the neighborhood watch,” Tim Donnelly, a Minuteman volunteer from California, told The Boston Globe. “We are doing the job that Congress won’t do.”
Some 3,000 illegal immigrants cross the border into Arizona every day, according to mainstream reports, and at least 550,000 undocumented immigrants were captured in southern Arizona last year. An estimated 500,000 illegal aliens live in Arizona.
As the organization’s Volunteer Training Manual stipulates:
“Minuteman Corps volunteers only observe, report and direct the Border Patrol to suspected illegal aliens or illegal activities,” and “volunteers do not verbally contact, physically gesture to or have any form of communication with suspected illegal aliens.”
“Our efforts are not meant to stop illegals,” Chris Simcox, publisher of The Tombstone Tumbleweed and co-founder of the citizen organization, told AFP. “Our efforts are designed to send our elected officials a stiff reminder—they work for us first. Ignore us, and we will continue to grow in numbers.”
The purpose of the citizens’ effort is simply to “spot and report,” Simcox says. “When the [border] agent on the ground arrives, give them the information and direct them toward the group. Other than that, stay out of their way and let them do their job.”
“Every group should have a first aid kit and extra water to offer a human being life-saving aid,” the group’s rules say. “If a group or individual approaches you in need of assistance, provide it.”
“This is activism,” Simcox wrote about the group’s mission, “yet it is symbolic at best. We know millions of illegals are here, thousands continue to come, and nothing short of military intervention will cease the flow.”
The citizen effort is “to challenge our government to fulfill their constitutionally mandated responsibility,” Simcox says, and to challenge the government “by fulfilling their obligation in their absence.”
Paul Smith, a volunteer from Phoenix, participated in a recent Minuteman Project along the Arizona border in April.
“The key element,” Smith told American Free Press, “is to be completely law-abiding and humanitarian.”
During the April border-watching project, Smith was amazed by the diversity of the volunteers. “There were people from every part of America,” Smith said. “They were apple-pie people.
“Humility,” Smith says, is the main reason the Minuteman Project has been successful. The organization’s humility and use of non-violent tactics “morally undermine” those who are opposed to
citizen efforts to defend the
border, he said.
One of the key points stressed upon volunteers is to avoid any contact with the migrants, who may be carrying weapons. Volunteers are told not to confront anyone crossing the border, many of whom are escorted by armed smugglers known as “coyotes.” They are advised to maintain a distance of at least 300 yards from any undocumented migrants.
“There are no rules of engagement because there will be no engagement,” Jim Gilchrist, co-founder of the organization said.
Smith compares the group’s non-violent tactics to those employed by Mohandas Karamchand “Mahatma” Ghandi to end the British occupation of India.
Simcox advises anyone who harbors “ill feelings toward the illegals” to “stay home. Any volunteer who even hints at illegal activity will be quickly ostracized from the mission and will be reported to law enforcement,” he wrote in the group’s code of conduct. “Restraint, responsibility and character are the qualities that will guarantee success.”
One high-profile Minuteman volunteer for the October border project is Joseph Farah, web master of the popular WorldNetDaily web site. In an essay posted on Aug. 1, Farah explained why he became a Minuteman volunteer.
“There is no denying that the U.S. government refuses, despite an overwhelming demand from the American people, to enforce immigration laws and border security,” Farah wrote.
The lack of border security is the “No. 1 crisis facing America,” he wrote in his article entitled “Why I Am a Minuteman.”
“I believe the Minutemen represent our last line of defense in preserving freedom and self-government in America,” he said. “It’s that simple.”
“Ultimately, in a country in which we still theoretically believe in a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, the government must be forced—kicking and screaming if necessary—to accept its responsibility in enforcing the laws,” he said. “Only a massive outpouring of support for the Minutemen will make that happen.”
The Minutemen are concerned about violent traffickers who guide migrants across the border. There are reports that a renegade band of Mexican military deserters, known as the “Zetas” and trained in the United States as a elite force of anti-drug commandos, had joined forces with Mexican narcotics smugglers operating along the border.
The Zetas, based in the Mexican town of Nuevo Laredo on the border with Texas, are offering $50,000 bounties for the assassination of U.S. law enforcement officers trying to stem the tide of immigrants coming across the border.
There are those who are opposed to any citizen effort to enforce control of the U.S. border. Ray Ybarra, a law student at Stanford University, is among them. Ybarra, working with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), observed the April Minuteman Project along the Arizona border.
Asked if the ACLU observers had seen or heard of any crimes committed by Minuteman volunteers during the April project, Ybarra said, “No, we haven’t.”
Ybarra, a native of Douglas, however, refers to the Minutemen as “extremists” and “vigilantes.” With seeming disregard for U.S. law, Ybarra told the Southern Poverty Law Center how the Mexican government actively assists undocumented migrants to violate the U.S. border.
“The Mexican government has gone to great effort to warn migrants about the vigilantes,” Ybarra said, “to alert them to the danger, tell them where the vigilantes are located, and direct them to cross in different areas.”
Without mentioning that crossing the border illegally is a criminal offense, Ybarra claimed that spotting and reporting illegal border crossers is a violation of their human rights.
“What occurs on the U.S.-Mexico border is one of the grossest human rights violations in the history of the United States,” he wrote in a letter to Larry Dever, sheriff of Cochise County. “Here in our backyard, human beings have to face death and hatred in their pursuit of work that this country offers.”
(Issue #33, August 15, 2005)