May 30, 2005: Arizona-Mexico Border Minuteman Project To Protest U.S. Failure To Stop Illegal Immigration
The Minuteman Project
WHAT IT IS
The Minuteman Project is essentially an exercise of constitutional rights under the First Amendment. We were using the guaranteed rights of speech and assembly, that's all. Have you seen that in any media reports? People were gathering on land where they had a right to be, and communicating. In some countries you could be shot or jailed for such impertinence. We were exercising rights we have a right to exercise.
A few simple principles applied.
1. A 100% no-contact policy.
You were to have no direct contact with any illegals spotted. Don't offer them food or water, don't converse, avoid them. If they come toward you move away. Some illegals had attempted contact, and then made claims of assault to discredit the MMP efforts. Don't even wave. These immigrants understand that if a BP agent makes a downward waving motion, they are to sit down right where they are and wait to be picked up. If you waved, you had to put your hand down afterwards, and the illegals might take that as a command to sit. If they sat, then you had detained them, with negative legal impacts on the project and yourself. Avoid all contact. If they approach or even attack, get in your vehicle and leave. Leave your goods behind if necessary. It was this approach that has kept the MMP squeaky clean and above reproach (despite media hysteria otherwise).
2. Observe and report.
Note how many illegals you observed, how many men, women, children. Are any in apparent need of medical help, we don't want people to suffer. What are they wearing, are they carrying babies, or anything else, especially backpacks which would be indicative of drug smuggling. Which way are they headed. Then call BP by cell phone — everyone was given the emergency response phone numbers — and your job is done. We were to assist the BP, not to be the BP. We were not freelance police, we were observers. We were not protecting a spot. After BP arrives, leave promptly so they needn't include you in their report, which undesirably increases their workload.
3. Be respectful.
Joining up with this team, it became each person's responsibility to project a good clean image. This was a joy. It was a point of pride. It made Brad and I walk tall. And it was easy, because everywhere we went, people gushed with thanks and congratulations on the good work we were doing. They were delighted that the project had been created, and that the flood if illegals, at least for the time being, had stopped. More than one person said they were getting better sleep because the dogs weren't barking all night long. A few started out in whispers, then gradually, enthusiastically, revealed stories of their own contact with the illegals, for as long as they had a Minuteman's ear. (A few short samples at the end of this report.)
4. Avoid the news media and the ACLU.
The dirty tricks that had been tried were blood curdling. The news media could, and many did, take anything you might say and twist it for sensationalism, and to make the MMP look bad. You've read the news reports these people generated, how closely does that match the eyewitness report I'm giving you here? The solution the organizers applied was to avoid giving them unwitting support. Both the media and ACLU “observers” had tried to instigate trouble by dressing as illegals, emerging from the woods, and attempting to provoke hostilities. The ACLU have made fools of themselves, have been disrespectful, set fires, baited us, under the “leadership” of a young individual named Ray Ybarra, with support from their leadership locally and nationally.
5. On the line, all guns stay holstered.
Don't show it off, examine it, clean it, fix it, load it, lube it, take it out for any reason, except to save your life, if that becomes immediately necessary. In the unlikely event that you are shot at from across the border, do not return fire, duck, and leave. No exceptions, zero tolerance, and no long guns on the line. This is Arizona, and wearing a gun (literally, “bearing arms”) is perfectly legal (as it ought to be in all states). The news media has showed an unethical, totally anti-rights bias on this point, using ridicule, derision and a hoplophobic sense of distress that cries out for medical attention. What better place to exercise this right than in a notoriously bad neighborhood, with illegal hordes and criminals streaming in. Since you were supposed to avoid all contact and depart if approached, all guns stayed holstered. More than half of the people I saw were armed, a comforting sight all things considered, and more than half of those carried revolvers. Our trainer made it clear that we were being watched very closely — the whole world was watching — and the last thing we needed was to give these people, and the media's bigots, any excuse at all to malign the good work we had set out to do.
6. Do not step over the border into Mexico.
If you do, and are caught, you can be arrested and spend two years in a Mexican prison. They don't have a revolving door immigration policy like we do. The rules were clear, with no wiggle room.
WHAT IT ISN'T
It isn't racism, the KKK, skinheads, Nazis, bullies, bubbas, yahoos or most anything else the news media, and especially hyperventilating editorial writers, have claimed. Most especially it is not vigilantism. Vigilantes take the law into their own hands. As observers, that was not remotely our role. Vigilantes are by definition bad. Being vigilant, on the other hand, is something the Dept. of Homeland Security has asked all Americans to be, and it's smart. We were complying. That felt good. Surprisingly good.
Despite media reports, the MMP isn't hated by the Border Patrol. It's just the opposite — the BP union publicly stated that they welcomed the support, and that the MMP was effective, courteous and doing good (U.S. Border Patrol Local 2544, their statement is at the end of this report; the union says it is the ACLU people that have been causing trouble). The official BP position is that they have no position, and do not support the effort. Privately, tacitly, it was obvious we were not hated, even though our presence complicated some of BP's tasks — just look at all that news media they have had to deal with and navigate around. And the lack of illegals has left some of the agents, well, bored.
Rather than make this email too long, I'll get the rest of the report posted on my website by tomorrow. Look for a blue Minuteman Project button at gunlaws.com, to read about:
WORKING THE LINE
WHY THERE'S A PROBLEM
WHERE IT'S HEADED
Notes from our half-hour meeting with BP Capt. Jose Garza
Statements from U.S. Border Patrol Local 2544 website
(the largest Border Patrol union local in the country):
“We want to make it clear — because we've had a lot of questions about this — we have not had one single complaint from a rank-and-file agent in this sector about the Minutemen.”
“Every report we've received indicates these people are very supportive of the rank-and-file agents; they're courteous. Many of them are retired firefighters, cops and other professionals, and they're not causing us any problems whatsoever.”
“Reports of [Minutemen] causing 'ground sensors' to go off are exagerated because most of those are being set off by the ACLU sneaking around trying to find the Minutemen doing something wrong.”