SAN ANTONIO, Texas - The Bush Administration would have us believe that most illegal immigrants (or "undocumented workers" in the lingo of political correctness) are merely looking for a better life and taking only those jobs that Americans do not want.
Kerry Morales isn't buying that line. "Maybe 20 years ago the illegals were innocent, hard-working people," she tells the San Antonio Express-News. "Not any more. Now they're extremely dangerous. They mean violence."
Morales, a South Texas rancher, says illegal immigrants have cut down her fences, stolen her pickup truck and broken into her home, once invading her bedroom and nearly strangling her. She says they fled after she reached for her gun.
Rather than complain to authorities, who seem unable or unwilling to stem the tide, Morales plans in April to join hundreds of other volunteers from across the country along a 20-mile stretch of the Arizona-Mexico border where they intend to help the Border Patrol spot illegals and reduce their number.
They are calling themselves the Minuteman Project and take their inspiration from the Massachusetts militias of the 1770s. The idea of a civilian border patrol comes from Jim Gilchrist, a retired California accountant and Marines Vietnam veteran.
The volunteers say they will use night vision binoculars and other high-tech devices to help spot people crossing the border. Once they sight illegals, the volunteers say they will use cell phones and walkie-talkies to contact a command center, which will relay the information to U.S. Border Patrol agents.
Gilchrist tells the Express-News that participants will not confront migrants, nor do they intend to behave like vigilantes, taking the law into their own hands.
I like this idea. At a time when both political parties seem intent on shilling for Hispanic votes by refusing to adequately enforce immigration laws, citizens volunteering to cooperate in the enforcement of those laws are in the grand American tradition of power and authority flowing from the people to the government and not the reverse.
The Mexican government is reprinting what some believe to be a guidebook to help illegal immigrants avoid capture and prosecution after entering the United States. Called the "Mexican Migrant Guide," the Mexican Foreign Ministry says its purpose is to help people who have already decided to enter the United States to diminish their risk of death and to inform them of their rights should they be arrested. Some legislators, such as Rep. J.D. Hayworth, Arizona Republican, say the document is a guide on how to enter the United States illegally.
The volunteers like Morales might not be necessary if sufficient numbers of new Border Patrol agents are hired. Legislation developed as a result of the 9/11 Commission called for an additional 2,000 Border Patrol agents, but the Bush Administration's 2006 budget asks for just 210 new agents.
The House recently approved a package of measures to control immigration, including easing deportation of illegals, making it more difficult for them to claim political asylum. The bill would also impose new requirements on states to seek proof of applicants' legal residence before drivers licenses are issued and exempt the federal government from environmental laws in building roads and barriers along U.S. borders. The measure, called the REAL ID Act, passed the House 261-161 and awaits action by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Congress can, and should, do more, including approving the necessary funding for the total number of new Border Patrol agents recommended by the 9/11 Commission. It should also require that legal immigrants be fully assimilated into American culture. This means requiring they learn U.S. history and the English language in order to pass a citizenship test. These were among the recommendations made by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich at a recent gathering of conservative activists in Washington.
If not enough is done to lessen the flow of illegal immigrants into this country, look for more volunteers to start enlisting in a citizens army and begin paraphrasing Paul Revere, shouting, "The illegals are coming."
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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