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A volunteer movement that vows to guard America from a wave of illegal immigration has spread from the dusty U.S.-Mexican border to the verdant hollows of Appalachia.

At least 40 anti-immigration groups have popped up nationally, inspired by the Minuteman Project that rallied hundreds this year to patrol the Mexican border in Arizona.

"It's like O'Leary's cow has kicked over the lantern. The fire has just started now," said Carl "Two Feathers" Whitaker, an Native American activist and perennial gubernatorial candidate who runs the Tennessee Volunteer Minutemen, aimed at exposing those who employ illegals.

Critics call the movement vigilantism, and some hear in the words of the Minutemen vitriol similar to what hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan used against blacks in the South in the 1960s.

The Minuteman Project has generated chapters in 18 statesâ€