The Miracle On Southwest Border: Illegal Immigration Smashed

April 8, 2005: The Miracle On The Southwest Border: Illegal Immigration Smashed

April 8, 2005

The Miracle on the Southwest Border: Illegal Immigration Smashed
A Direct Field Report on the Arizona-Mexico No-Mans Land

The Arizona border with Sonora outside Naco
By Congressman Charlie Norwood

An on-going miracle is occurring this month in Americas Southwest, a miracle with a direct impact on our district. After decades of being told that it is impossible to stop illegal immigration on the
Arizona border, it has been all but halted since April 1 through the very means we were told wouldnt work dedicated manpower and willpower.

This past Sunday, the Congressional Immigration Reform Caucus, of which I am a member, sent two senior staffers to investigate first-hand a chain of events beginning in late March which could force
Congress and the Administration to dramatically rethink our approach to combating illegal immigration.

I insisted that John Stone from our Washington staff be a part of that first two-man team, so that we would have the most direct information on the situation possible. Stone is currently a Captain and public affairs officer with the Virginia Defense Force, the reserve to the Virginia National Guard, and a homeland security policy advisor. He partnered with retired Marine Colonel Fred Peterson, an expert on international homeland defense. They went into the border zone independently from any other federal agencies, with Caucus instructions to investigate every side of what is occurring in the zone, talk with any and all sources both on and off-the-record, and report those findings back to Congress. Their final and full report will be filed May 2, but their initial findings need to be known immediately.

The catalyst for the new focus on the border is a controversial movement by private citizens who are simply fed up with the ineffectiveness of federal efforts to combat the problem. They call their effort the Minuteman Project, and have kicked off what they describe as a Neighborhood Watch effort to help our Border Patrol control illegal immigration through additional free, volunteer manpower.

Our Border Patrol has officially responded with less than open arms to the offer of free help, in spite of complaining for decades of not having enough officers to adequately cover the vast desert region.
It is estimated that more than half of the current 16 million illegal aliens in this country walked right through this same sector, yet the Border Patrol still says no thanks.

Vigilantes or Patriotic Volunteers?

While that hasnt slowed the Minutemen down in bringing their 30-day project to reality, it has created an uncomfortable situation of armed civilian volunteers operating without first being sworn in
by a lawfully authorized local, state, or federal agency.

That is a legitimate concern. One of the foundations of our Republic is that our military and law enforcement answers through an established chain-of-command to publicly elected officials. It is one
of the key differences between the 200-year success of our nation and economy and the banana republics to our south that are the precise cause of so many folks wanting to flee to the United States.

Yet it is likewise an underlying principle of our Republic that elected officials faithfully act to defend and enforce the laws of the land, including our immigration laws. And our elected officials have repeatedly failed to take the necessary steps to do so.

Are the Minutemen vigilantes? That is a question for which Congress needed direct, unedited feedback from the field to attempt to answer.

President Bush has said he is against vigilantes, while not directly calling the Minuteman volunteers by that name. But Mexican President Vincente Fox has directly referred to the Minutemen as vigilantes. An interesting statement from a President with troops under his command who consistently violate our border. He obviously doesnt mind taking our law into his hands, he just has a problem with us doing the same with our own law.

So what is a vigilante? From a variety of sources, a vigilante is One who takes law enforcement into one's own hands; vigilantes often operate in secret. The Caucus investigation has so far uncovered
the following field evidence:

* No Enforcement Efforts: Project organizers are maintaining rigid rules that volunteers take no enforcement action whatsoever. They simply report the location of suspected illegal immigrants to the Border Patrol. Our team confirmed all volunteers are drilled on avoiding confrontation, even if provoked, and under instruction to allow all persons to pass unobstructed, and without verbal harassment. They are allowed to provide emergency aid to illegal immigrants if necessary, and our team investigated one incident of an illegal immigrant who fell behind his group, and was actually provided emergency food and water by Minutemen while Border Patrol agents were in transit. An illegal immigrant who claimed on
Wednesday (6 APR) to have been detained by the Minutemen is likewise reported to have received food, water, and money from sympathetic volunteers before changing his story, reportedly after outside coaching.

* Transparency: The Minutemen organization has opened its operations 100% to media, government, and public inspection. Local, national, and international press, along with all government agencies, have access to all Minutemen facilities in the area, as well as being offered the opportunity to observe all field operations. Our team accompanied newspaper reporters on an overnight observation of a high drug-trafficking area this week. Stone and
Peterson confirm the reporters had full access to the entire operation, and the ability to talk to all members of the team. Some individual Minutemen team members chose not to talk or have
their picture included in the story, which is within their rights, consistent with standard public affairs operations guidelines of state and federal agencies. By contrast, the U.S. Border Patrol
did not allow our team to accompany their agents through ride-along requests that are traditionally provided as a courtesy to congressional fact-finding missions.

From these initial findings, if the Minutemen are vigilantes, then so are all Neighborhood Watches that are not formally recognized by a law enforcement agency.

Elements at Play
The Minutemen: Leaders of the Minutemen Project say they currently have around 450 volunteers in the field. They have been in the field since Monday, April 4, and will be relieved over the coming weeks by another thousand or so volunteers. They estimate somewhere between 1000-1500 volunteers will participate before the project is over at the end of the month, with around 500 in the field at any given time.

The Border Patrol: The Border Patrol has pulled in 534 seasoned agents from elsewhere in the country to reinforce the 2600 agents already in the sector. The Border Patrol says these reinforcements have nothing to do with the Minuteman Project, and are a planned step in the ongoing Arizona Border Patrol Initiative.

Coronado Memorial National Park: The National Park Service has trucked in an undetermined number of tactical officers from other states. Coronado Memorial National Park covers nearly 5000 acres on the border with Mexico.

The Media: Our team identified the Los Angeles Times, the San Antonio Express, La Raza Radio News 97.9FM, NBC/MSNBC Crew West, the Associated Press, FOX News, and multiple European media outlets remaining on the scene long-term. Members of these and other media are constantly following the Minutemen, and have at times disrupted observation efforts.

Opposing Groups: The ACLU; La Raza; Hispanic separatist Dr. Armando Navarro; street gang MS-13; Mexican drug and human trafficking gangs, and Earth Liberation.

Fort Huachuca: The U.S. Army maintains its own security and patrols over the base area, frequently used by illegal immigrants. ROTC Cadets from Arizona State University on training duty at the base apprehended and detained 16 illegal immigrants earlier this week; 513 illegals were apprehended on base in March.

Border Action to Date
Prior to the Minuteman Project observation posts becoming active on April 4, open-borders advocates protested and sent observers into the field, reportedly for the duration of the project. These groups included the ACLU, Earth Liberation, and others. Stone observed what is believed to be elements of these groups attempt to disrupt observation posts.

The Salvadoran street gang MS-13 along with Mexican human smuggling and drug rings has reportedly threatened armed attacks against the Minuteman volunteers. This MS-13 gang is the very one which is spreading so rapidly across our country, with a worldwide membership of 700,000, and a history of vicious machete attacks in the Washington, DC suburbs. It seems they object to having their illegal access to our country blocked.

The government-controlled Cuban press is telling the world that armed racists are standing by to shoot innocent migrant workers.

Mexican President Vincente Fox has ordered his military to mass on the U.S. border in higher numbers than usual, just in case, of a confrontation. There wont be, as the Minutemen are under strict instructions to walk away from confrontation, but this policy position of Mexico is worth noting. This is the same Mexican military that provides water, aid, and travelers advice to immigrants seeking to cross our border illegally, to help them do so. According to multiple reports, beginning April 1 the Mexican military has been blocking immigrants from attempting to cross the section of border patrolled by the Minutemen, and advising illegals to cross to the east and west of the Minutemens area of operations. They are telling these immigrants that crazed ranchers are waiting to shoot them on sight on our side of the border if they cross in the wrong place.

The Minuteman volunteers, with a heavy percentage of armed former U.S. military members, have held firm to their project goals in spite of these threats and distortions.

Results A Dramatic Decline in Illegal Immigration Our team heard two conflicting stories on the results of these developments on the Southwest border. But both stories have the same ending: illegal activity in this, the heaviest illegal immigration border sector in America, has been brought to a screeching halt.

The U.S. Border Patrol attributes any and all decreases in illegal immigration this spring to their own efforts to increase enforcement, primarily their bringing in those 534 seasoned officers from other
parts of the country the week before the Minuteman Project kicked off. They also credit the increased Mexican military presence on the other side of the border. Their official stance is that the
Minutemen Project has had little or no effect, and was timed by its volunteer organizers to try to claim success for the efforts of the Border Patrol. A fascinating position when you think about it a
reverse conspiracy theory, in which federal bureaucrats suspect citizens of designing sophisticated plots against them. Interestingly, the Border Patrol had no knowledge of increased federal efforts elsewhere, such as the National Park Service team deployed to the state, or of whether U.S. Army enforcement efforts were increased.

Local law enforcement, and individual Border Patrol officers speaking off-the-record, say that illegal immigration has virtually stopped in the sector patrolled by the Minutemen as a direct result of Minutemen activity and publicity.

Regardless of the cause, a historic immigration reform myth has been exposed as a total travesty in just the first week of the Minuteman Project. That myth is that it is impossible to stop illegal
immigrants from crossing the border with any reasonable amount of additional manpower, that controlling illegal immigration could only be accomplished through new technology still years away from implementation, and that a necessary ingredient is immigration reform that would allow most of those entering our nation illegally to just walk across the border with impunity.

That myth is now dead forever thanks to a remarkable first week of April on the Arizona-Sonora border. We can stop illegal immigration anytime we please by simply providing adequate and reasonable numbers of Border Patrol personnel, with Army or National Guard backup if necessary, to bring our national illegal immigration nightmare to an immediate end.

We have the manpower. The only question left is whether we have the willpower.


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