Several hundred "Minutemen" -- American citizens -- stationed themselves at the Arizona-Mexico border. They intend to monitor 23 miles of border, and alert Border Patrol agents when they spot someone entering the country illegally. This 20-plus mile border area is one of the highest traffic corridors for illegal border-crossings. Last year, more than 40 percent of the 1.15 million illegal aliens caught by Border Patrol were taken into custody in this southern Arizona region, known as the Tucson sector. Although President Bush called the Minutemen "vigilantes," the administration reassigned several hundred Border Patrol agents to the area.
The Minuteman Project, co-founded by former schoolteacher Chris Simcox, claims it stopped some 4,000 people from entering the country. Simcox says that their presence caused the Mexican government -- which calls the Minutemen "migrant hunters" -- to place its military on Mexico's side of the border. The Minutemen, the added Border Patrol and the heightened awareness all combined, according to Simcox, to "shut down" this part of the border.
Simcox says he intends to continue the project until the Bush administration puts sufficient manpower on the border. But Simcox agrees that most people attempting to enter the country illegally from Mexico do so for economic betterment, and he feels sympathy for someone leaving a poor country to seek a better life for their family. He agrees that we need some orderly system to match willing sellers of labor with willing suppliers. Simcox realizes what others refuse to acknowledge -- there are jobs Americans simply will not take, and he supports some form of guest-worker program, as proposed by President Bush. But, he says, it cannot work without first securing the borders.
A few years ago, I interviewed a man who started an inner-city restaurant to provide jobs for the mostly black kids living in the area. He opened the restaurant, but soon found difficulty in attracting competent help. He put ads in the newspaper, and advised churches and many community organizations of the availability of work. Soon, he said he "resorted to hiring Hispanics" because he could not find reliable help at wages he could pay.
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