WASHINGTON (AP) -- Intent on securing the vulnerable Arizona border from illegal immigrant crossings, U.S. officials are bracing for what they call a potential new threat this spring: the Minutemen.
Nearly 500 volunteers have already joined the Minuteman Project, anointing themselves civilian border patrol agents. They plan to patrol a 40-mile stretch of the southeast Arizona border throughout April when the tide of immigrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border peaks.
"I felt the only way to get something done was to do it yourself," said Jim Gilchrist, a retired accountant and decorated Vietnam War veteran who is helping recruit Minutemen across the country.
"We've been repeatedly accused of being people who are taking the law into our own hands," said Gilchrist, 56, of Aliso Viejo, California "That is an outright bogus statement. We are going down there to assist law enforcement."
Officials concede the 370-mile Arizona border is the most porous stretch on the U.S.-Mexico line. Moreover, recent intelligence indicates that al Qaeda terrorists are likely to enter the country through the Mexican border, James Loy, the deputy secretary of the Homeland Security Department, said last week.
"Several al Qaeda leaders believe operatives can pay their way into the country through Mexico, and also believe illegal entry is more advantageous than legal entry for operational security reasons," Loy said in written testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Of the 1.1 million illegal immigrants caught by the U.S. Border Patrol last year, 51 percent crossed into the country at the Arizona border. The agency increased the number of agents in the Tucson sector, which has its largest staff, from 1,700 to 2,100 over the last 18 months.
All righty, then. Our supervisors don't want vigilantism around the Mexican "border," because that would be very bad. Can't have the Americano peasantry getting all uppity, taking the law into their own hands and whatnot. What are they whining about now? They don't want an invading army of prospective Wal-mart associates to use "their" land as a thoroughfare? Well, they should ask our supervisors, very politely ... and our supervisors will provide protection. As much as our supervisors think is warranted, of course, and in due time, assuming the budgets allow for it, and assuming that Emperor El Presidente Grande Jorge Bush thinks it's a good idea, and won't annoy his amigo Vicente Fox too much.
Meanwhile, those "landowners" (who actually rent from Our Dread Sovereign) had better watch their butts, if they know what's good for them:
... But "if anything goes wrong, God forbid, someone does injure an agent, this government is going to be turning both barrels on them and come after them with a vengeance," he said.
Gilchrist said the Minutemen are under strict orders to merely identify and follow illegal border crossers and alert federal agents. They should not interact with the immigrants except to offer food, water or medical care. If there's a couple of "bad apples" who turn up in the group, Gilchrist said, they will face prosecution if they step outside the law.
Yes, there's always potential problems, when camo-wearing nutcases get a little power. Guns belong in the hands of trained professionals, of course ... like those FBI HRT guys at Ruby Ridge, or the ATF at Waco. That's always much better. But I do wonder why our supervisors don't have the resources required to actually secure the borders of actual U.S. territory. We always have vast resources when it comes time to make the Middle East safe for Israel, haven't we?