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Related Categories: International | Immigrant Rights
Vigilantes set to 'confront' migrants on US border
by reposted
Thursday Mar 31st, 2005 9:51 AM
WASHINGTON U.S. nationalist vigilantes are set to begin patrolling the border with Mexico in an effort to stem what they see as a tide of undocumented immigrants, and some reports say violent Central American gang members are preparing to confront the selfstyled sentinels.
A group calling itself Civil Homeland Defense said Monday that it will deploy more than 1,000 volunteers along the Arizona-Mexico border this week to block those seeking to cross without visas.

Members of the CHD involved with the "Minuteman Project" emphasize they have no intention of doing any more than reporting immigrant sightings to the Border Patrol. However, one member of the group said in comments to the Washington Times that had been told of plans by the notorious Central American gang Mara Salvatrucha to confront the self-appointed border guardians.

Mexican President Vicente Fox has described the civilian border patrollers as "immigrant hunters," and U.S. President George W. Bush said last week that he does not approve of the activities of vigilante groups.

In February, the Mexican government sent a diplomatic note to the United States expressing concern over vigilante activities of anti-immigrant groups like the Minuteman Project.

Foreign Relations Secretary (SRE) official Gerónimo Gutiérrez said it was "very probable" that these groups would violating the rights of undocumented migrants. The note urged the United States to ensure that vigilante groups do not break the law when dealing with Mexican migrants, he added.

The Minuteman Project will commence April 1, organizer James Gilchrist said.

Gilchrist told the Washington Times that California- and Texas-based capos of Mara Salvatrucha, also known as MS-13, have ordered their members to teach a "lesson" to the CHD contingent planning to stake out a 32kilometer (almost 20-mile) stretch of the San Pedro River valley.

But the Minuteman organizer was undaunted by the threat. "We're not worried because half of our recruits are retired trained combat soldiers," Gilchrist told the Washington daily. "And those guys are just a bunch of punks."

Vigilante groups like the Minutemen have appeared in increasing numbers in Arizona in recent years, despite an increase in the number of Border Patrol agents by the U.S. government. However, they have largely been small, informal groups, unlike the Minuteman project.

Between 1998 and 2004, Mexico has initiated 76 legal cases against vigilantes who have detained Mexican migrants, but only five have made it before a judge.
by another repost
Thursday Mar 31st, 2005 9:53 AM
On Friday, armed civilian volunteers are scheduled to line Arizona's border with Mexico to stop illegal immigrants from crossing into the U.S. If the goal of these volunteers is to heighten awareness of Arizona's porous borders and make the federal government do something to stem the flow, that's fine, although a bit redundant.

If, however, they make good on their promises to patrol the border-an organizer has called the group the world's largest neighborhood watch-the feds should stop them, then arrest them if necessary.

In this country, we don't get to take the law into our own hands.

Nothing good can come of a group of civilians enforcing federal laws. Someone will get hurt. Maybe it will be a desperate immigrant, maybe it will be one of these cowboys who are calling themselves the Border Minuteman Project.

Neither project organizers nor law enforcement has any way of knowing the motives of the people who show up. They might include people sincere about getting the government's attention. They might include people who hate others and the government for an avocation. They might include people with criminal backgrounds and mental health issues.

Illegal immigration is indeed a problem. The Department of Homeland Security, now over the Border Patrol, has announced the location of 500 new border patrol agents to the Arizona border. This assistance migh be late in coming, in the eyes of Arizonans and others concerned about our ability to control our borders, but help is on the way.

The problem will not be solved in its entirety, no matter how many guards we have at our boundaries. Immigration is an economic fact of life.

Yes, it's costly to provide educational and welfare services to people who do not pay taxes. Yet we have been more than willing to let these folks do the dirty work Americans reject. We tend to forget that the very jobs at which we turn up our noses are the key to survival, even prosperity, for folks below the border.

What we need to do is work out a guest worker program, as President Bush has promoted. In this way, the huddled masses that seep through our southern borders could still find opportunity in America while living in their own country.

The answer is not a makeshift civilian border patrol.

Yes, slipping across the boundaries into the U.S. is illegal. So is impersonating a federal officer.
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