Q&A Tuesday: Minuteman director explains group's immigration mission

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October 16, 2007, 4:01 AM

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Al Garza is the national executive director of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, a group that wants "the borders and coastal boundaries of the United States secured against the unlawful and unauthorized entry of all individuals, contraband and foreign military," according to its mission statement. The group calls for a border fence, penalizing businesses that hire illegal immigrants and other measures that would cause all illegal immigrants to leave the country or be deported. It often organizes groups to watch for illegal immigrants coming over the U.S.-Mexican border. Garza lives in Arizona. For information about the group, go to www.minutemanhq.com.

Could you talk a little more about your mission?

Our mission is quite simple. It has four elements to it. One, border security. Two, enforce immigration laws. Three, hold people who hire illegal immigrants accountable. Four, make sure illegal immigrants do not obtain public services.

What do you think about immigration raids on businesses?

I encourage it and I, too, am Hispanic. If you ask me to provide any type of documentation, I'd be more than happy to do so. ... The reason people on the other side of the debate are opposed to it is because they have something to hide. ... If they're not complying with a law that means they're in the shadows, but they're not in the shadows when it comes to protesting and taking the flag down and hitting it and stomping on it.

Should there be a process for moving to citizenship for an illegal immigrant?

The process is real simple. If you're not a documented immigrant, you're an illegal alien and there's deportation in progress. Let me give you an analogy: If I, Al Garza, goes out and robs a bank or robs a mom-and-pop store and they find out that it's Al Garza that did this, are the police supposed to say, "We can't target this guy because he's brown or because he's got three children and his wife is sick?" The excuses just keep on coming. We're a nation that prides itself on the rule of law.

What should the country do with the illegal immigrants in the country now?

It's real simple again, if you don't have proper documentation, you don't belong in the United States. Why is it so fair that people are here just because of ethnicity, that they have the right to be here without any documentation? ... (If the laws are enforced) they will self-deport. What else would be left for them? You demagnetize America if there is no income, if there is no welfare, if there is no clinics, no hospitals. You start forcing the issue.

How big would illegal immigration raids have to be to affect the situation now?

As big as they have to be. How big do you suppose the raid would be if I and 12 million Americans stopped paying taxes? Do you think the IRS would just sit back and the government would just sit back and say, "OK, Mr. Garza, there's too many of you. We're going to go ahead and honor your request, you don't have to pay taxes." Or do you think they would apply the law and say, "Mr. Garza, you're going to go to jail and so is everyone else (that doesn't' pay taxes)." They'll find room for me in some jail somewhere and they will find room somewhere for those 12 million people.