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Tired of Waiting for Congress, Arizonans Act to Secure Future


By Mark Anderson

A border fence is already being built—but not by an order of Congress. Instead, it’s being built in Naco, Ariz., by private citizens, many of whom strongly believe that Congress will not approve proposed legislation to erect a 700-mile border fence.

The citizens braving the heat of the Arizona desert to secure their part of the U.S. border are working under the banner of the Minuteman Border Fence, a project of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, or MCDC. The corps’ national executive director, Al Garza, was interviewed by AFP on Dec. 18, during which he described the project and the philosophy behind it.

Part of that philosophy is expressed with the words “Security Can’t Wait for Congress to Act,” used on the web site of the MCDC/Minuteman Border Fence at minutemanhq. com. A quarter mile of fence already stands, 12 to 14 feet high, built at Naco, across the border from Naco, Mexico. As explained by Garza, a retired private investigator, the metal fence is located in a notoriously hazardous area due to a high influx of illegal aliens.

Some illegal aliens are “assisted” by human “coyotes” who have established their own racket to profit from aliens’ treks into the United States. “It’s very bad here,” Garza told AFP. “It’s one of the main treks they use, with drug smuggling and human smuggling going through. They are very bold . . . and aggressive.”

Accordingly, the Naco fence, consisting of a tight mesh that cannot be climbed, with poles driven deeply into the ground, is exceedingly tough.

“It’s very carefully engineered, designed and well-constructed. You cannot cut it, melt it or drive through it,” said Garza, who pointed out that a U.S. company, Fomguard, donated no less than $7.5 million worth of materials for the fence.

“[Fomguard] knows we are not the vigilantes we are portrayed as, that we are not lawbreakers,” said Garza. “We’re just demanding that our laws be enforced.”

The cost of erecting the fence, counting labor and materials, is $150 per linear foot. Garza didn’t do the math, but he roughly estimated that the already-donated materials may stretch for several miles, perhaps five or more.

It may be a “stretch” to say that this privately built fence will soon reach for several hundred miles like the congressional fence proposal. However, Garza indicated that wasting time is not an option. America is besieged by those crossing the porous southern border on the one hand, and, as he sees it, Congress is refusing to do its job on the other hand. This comes in an age when U.S. Border Patrol agents are apprehended and arrested for doing their job, Garza said, instead of receiving the funding, tools and encouragement they need to protect the United States from possible terrorist threats and other hazards that stem from the illegal alien racket.

“We’re a sovereign country,” Garza said. He added that the job of his Minuteman group and related groups is simply to scout the terrain for possible alien border crossings, spot the crossings when they happen and report the illegal activity to the proper authorities. Minuteman members neither arrest nor detain illegal aliens.

“We’re pride ourselves on the rule of law. And the rule of law applies to aliens, not just American citizens,” Garza said.

However, this is not to say that those in the MCDC and other likeminded people don’t feel compassion for the many desperate aliens who flee Mexico. “We have saved over 400 lives [of illegals] in the last three-and-a-half years,” Garza told AFP, pointing out that many who leave Mexico on foot are found in the desert extremely thirsty, hungry and ill.

“We don’t blame them,” Garza said, of illegal aliens. American and Mexican policy makers seem to be the main problem, he indicated. Garza, a former south Texas resident, is Hispanic himself and knows the Hispanic culture well. Even though he understands from firsthand experience that some people in that culture want to exploit America and are in favor of illegal immigration, he also knows that people like Hispanic activist Claudia Spencer and other Hispanics of her mindset love America, want the best for it and want sensible laws enforced consistently and properly.

Garza and several other likeminded citizens have trouble believing that members of Congress are serious about building a border fence. If they pass a bill to do so, the bill “will be tied to amnesty and the fence might never be built,” Garza said.

He fears a repeat of 1986, when major immigration reform was passed during the Reagan administration.

“Amnesty went on the upswing and measures for stricter border controls went down,” Garza said. “My contention is that [the bill for a border fence] is a dog and pony show.”

The Minuteman Project, led by outspoken, high-profile activist Jim Gilchrist, started around the same time the MCDC was launched. The president and founder of the MCDC is Chris Simcox. Garza said that Gilchrist’s group lately has focused more on lobbying Congress on immigration matters. Meanwhile, the MCDC started the Naco fence and is monitoring the interior of the nation, keeping tabs on the many towns that have passed, or are considering passing, local laws to crack down on those who rent housing and provide jobs to illegal aliens and break immigration laws by so doing.

From Hazelton, Penn., to Escondido, Calif., and many places in between, U.S. cities and towns are trying to send Congress the message that if the U.S. government will not get its priorities straight in these jittery post-911 days, then local citizens and leaders will act.

Those in the MCDC, who have launched more borderobservation operations south of McAllen, Tex., and in a number of other locations by the Mexican border, are another illustration of U.S. citizens proving that they are willing and able to defend America.

The underlying theme seems to be that, when push comes to shove, vigilant Americans will do the job Congress and the president won’t.

(Issue # 1 & 2, January 1 & 8, 2007)

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Updated January 20, 2007