Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Mainstreaming the Minutemen

Great. First we get a senator who endorses the Minutemen. Then the governor of California.

Now senior government officials from Homeland Security are endorsing the concept:
"We need more Border Patrol agents, there's no question about that," Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Robert Bonner told members of the House Government Reform Committee. CBP is in charge of the Border Patrol.

Bonner said his team has worked up a proposed increase in agents. He said the number is in the thousands but declined to be more specific, saying he still has to walk the plan through the Homeland Security Department.

... Bonner said CBP also is evaluating the effectiveness of using citizen patrols in a more formal way. He referred to the Minuteman Project, which set up citizen camps along a 23-mile stretch of the Arizona-Mexico border in April to observe and report illegal activity.

Minuteman organizers claim their efforts helped the Border Patrol apprehend 335 individuals illegally trying to enter the country, and deterred others who would have tried.

"The actions of the Minutemen were, I believe, well motivated," Bonner said. "There were no incidents, there were no acts of vigilantism, and that's a tribute to the organizers and leaders of the Minuteman Project."

Now, I suppose you can say that the Minutemen were "well motivated" -- if you ignore all that talk about how Latinos are ruining the country and the presence of folks like the Aryan Nations and other white supremacists. You could even suggest it was well-run -- if you ignore the fact that neither the quality of vetting the participants (very few of the promised weapon-permit checks were made, for instance, and numerous white supremacists were in fact enrolled, despite promises to refuse them) nor the levels of participation (some 1,300 were promised, and only about 300 showed) were even close to acceptable.

As for the "acts of vigilantism," well, according to one participant, that is scheduled to come later:
"We understand why Gilchrist and [project co-organizer Chris] Simcox have to talk all this P.C., crap," said one. "It's all about playing to the media. That's fine. While we're here, it's their game and we'll play by their rules. Once Minuteman's over, though, we might just have to come back and do our own thing."

Meanwhile, the Minutemen are spreading their movement to Utah, where there are no international borders, but a large influx of Latinos. Because of that, any "border watch" would by necessity be replaced with an "immigrant worker watch" and targeting individual businesses:
Minuteman Alex Segura, also a UFIRE board member, said the group's target is businesses. The group's first action will be a protest, planned for June 17, of two Holladay banks that accept for identification matricula consular cards and the new driving privilege cards -- both used by illegal immigrants.

Such businesses, he said, are "aiding and abetting (people) breaking federal law."

The next businesses on their list, most likely, will be those that employ illegal aliens. It doesn't take much imagination to realize that this organization is a recipe for harassment.

But then, these are after all the new vigilantes. Sure, it's just a "citizen border patrol," a kind of friendly, civic-oriented "neighborhood watch." But it never stops there.

Especially when it is given official government blessing.

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