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  1. #1
    Senior Member
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    Mar 2006
    Santa Clarita Ca

    Group keeps a watchful eye for illegal immigrants

    Group keeps a watchful eye for illegal immigrants
    Sunday, January 27, 2008
    Times Staff Writer
    ATHENS - In lawn chairs seated along the levee, they watch the Rio Grande through night vision goggles. In the desert, they use electronic ears to search for illegal footfalls.

    At Shoney's in Athens, they rise for the Pledge of Allegiance, facing a flag brought by the president of Alabama's newest chapter of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps.

    "I'm tired of Democrats. I'm tired of Republicans. I don't know what has happened to plain old Americans," announces chapter President Phil Goodale of Greenhill. "This is our country. We need to start taking it back."

    Goodale asks members who have stood watch on the border to stand. Five or six rise. Each paid their own way. Most are retirees who also served in the military.

    At the border, Minutemen wait with pistols or rifles stowed in their trucks, but say they reach only for cell phones. Each illegal crossing is reported to the U.S. Border Patrol.

    "We do not apprehend. We observe and report," says Ed Hart of Athens, who spent 23 years in the Marines and Navy and, more recently, several weeks at the border. "We also assist some of the illegals, because some are starving and dying of thirst."

    He says he performed first aid on a young Mexican man who had been robbed during the crossing and cut on a rancher's barbed wire.

    Two years ago, volunteers like Hart formed the first patrols of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps. Chapters soon sprang up far from the border.

    A few months ago, the Alabama chapter split, creating a North Alabama unit. The Tennessee Valley chapter of the Minutemen first met in September with eight or nine members. Membership has since doubled.

    This month, 26 attended the chapter meeting at Shoney's. They come from Florence and Decatur, Madison and Athens, towns increasingly home to Hispanic workers, some here legally, some not.

    While exact counts are difficult because of questions of legal status, the U.S. Census shows that Alabama's Hispanic population of 111,000 is concentrated in the northeast part of the state and growing rapidly. For example, the Hispanic population grew from 5.7 percent of the 2000 total in Marshall County to 9.1 percent in 2006.

    In response, the local Minutemen have stepped up recruiting here. "We're getting into gun shows," says Goodale. There they hand out the Minuteman literature.

    "It's not about race. It's not about any one people. It is about the law," says Marie Gray, state co-director for Alabama. "Foreigners here illegally don't have any legal rights."

    "Nativist extremist"

    Mark Potok tracks militias, white power organizations and other hate groups for the Southern Poverty Law Center. The national Minuteman Civil Defense Corps doesn't land on any of those lists.

    "This is a pretty sad little group," he said. "We called them a nativist extremist group."

    The center counts 144 such groups, including American Border Patrol and Mothers Against Illegal Aliens. These groups don't espouse hate speech based on race, Potok said, but do more than target policy.

    "They engage in face-to-face harassment of people who they think are undocumented workers," he said, "and people they think hire undocumented workers."

    A few of the Tennessee Valley Minutemen speak of such run-ins. One says he confronted a builder he believed was employing undocumented workers. He said when Decatur police arrived, they refused to verify the status of the workers and ordered him to leave the premises.

    The Minutemen lament that there is nothing local police can do, nothing federal agents will do.

    Goodale tells the members that in October he met with three federal immigration agents. They told him they are too busy targeting illegal immigrants here who commit major crimes to be able to chase crews of ordinary undocumented workers. The agents did not return calls for comment.

    Goodale tells the Minutemen that 95 percent of their local duties will be political. They will call and e-mail elected officials to say that illegal immigrants are a drain on public schools and hospitals, that they are disproportionate carriers of disease or drug smugglers.

    Minutemen also will push for laws that target Alabama employers and limit public services for illegal immigrants.

    They recognize that this pits them against the American Civil Liberties Union, which has fought such legislation from Arizona to Pennsylvania.

    "We think it's not the role of the local or state government to try to correct perceived deficiencies in federal immigration law," said Allison Neal, staff attorney for the ACLU of Alabama. She said local enforcement would create a patchwork of unequal laws.

    Some Minutemen at the meeting refer to the ACLU as the "Anti-American Communist Lawyers Union."

    Not a Rambo-type outfit

    Alabama's public debate over illegal immigration intensified in recent weeks. The Legislature's 21-member Joint Interim Patriotic Immigration Commission recently wrapped up a series of town meetings and will deliver its findings next month.

    Isabel Rubio, the director of Birmingham-based Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama, went to the commission's town meeting in Hoover this month. She said many of the people there opposing immigration did not allow for civil debate.

    "We're so closely walking the same line we walked in the '60s. It's not now necessarily an issue of race," said Rubio, "but we're excluding people and we're being hateful and intolerant."

    Andrew Turner of the Southern Poverty Law Center said some organizations the center lists as hate groups, including the Council of Conservative Citizens, spoke against immigration in Hoover.

    The Tennessee Valley Minutemen don't want to be associated with such outfits.

    "We're not a racist or a bigoted or a Rambo-type organization," said Minuteman Walter Bennett, a retired lieutenant colonel from Tuscumbia who has made several trips to the border since 2005. "We're just common citizens who want issues addressed in a legal fashion.

    "We understand that when we try to do something, we're putting our reputations and resources on the line."

    On the border

    Goodale hands out application forms. The new applicants are middle-age or older. None are black or Hispanic. It costs $50, he says, for a background check.

    "We don't want criminals," Goodale tells the group. "We don't want druggies. We don't want somebody that's going to clean out the borders, either."

    New chapters are popping up everywhere, said Brian Rudnick, a spokesman for the national Minuteman Civil Defense Corps. Reached by phone, Rudnick declined to provide a national membership number, but said the group now has about 104 state and local chapters from New Hampshire to Washington.

    Minutemen who never see a border "focus on local immigration enforcement issues, making sure that employers aren't hiring illegal aliens, making sure there are laws on the book."

    But many Minutemen see their most significant contribution along the border.

    Clarence Root of Decatur and his wife, Elizabeth, joined the Minutemen in Arizona in 2005, and spend about two weeks along the border every year.

    "We try to stay hidden," said Root, a Navy veteran who retired from TVA. He designed what he called a sonic ear, mounting a parabolic listening device to a helmet so he could scan the desert by turning his head.

    Jim Hall of Madison watched the border twice in 2007, spending three weeks each time. He spotted a group of 16 in April, but didn't spot any illegal crossings in October. "They were going around us."

    Retired from IBM, Hall slept during the day in a folding camper near Mission, Texas. At night he waited with night vision goggles. He carried a 9 mm Glock pistol.

    "We're not vigilantes. Vigilantes are people who try to enforce justice as they see fit," said Hall. "We try to enforce the law that exists."

    © 2008 The Huntsville Times
    © 2008 All Rights Reserved. ... xml&coll=1
    Join our efforts to Secure America's Borders and End Illegal Immigration by Joining ALIPAC's E-Mail Alerts network (CLICK HERE)

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    and and ? and ? and?
    the article spends most of the time fending off the same old attacks from the SPLC,
    but the article says nothing about whether sitting on the border helps get illegals arrested.
    where was the Border Patrol in this article?
    what about the 40 drug tunnels in Arizona or the fact that it is a war zone and unarmed Americans should not be on the border.
    those days have passed.
    gag me on helping illegals who are starving in the desert, in a strange way they have become enablers of the invasion.

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