[VDARE.COM note: Readers of this article will be charmed to learn that Mexican President Vicente Fox demanded on Wednesday that the US "act quickly to prevent…" activity like the Minuteman Project, saying; "We totally reject the idea of these migrant-hunting groups…We will use the law, international law and even U.S. law to make sure that these types of groups. . . will not have any opportunity to progress." ("Mexican president tells U.S. to control extremists" – Chris Hawley, azcentral.com March 16 2004). Hat tip, Modern Tribalist]
For the last three months, Minuteman Project coordinator Jim Gilchrist and his colleague Chris Simcox have been working 18 hours a day getting ready for April 1st.
That date marks the beginning of a month long journey when Gilchrist, Simcox and their volunteers will start patrolling a 40-mile stretch along the southeast Arizona-Mexico border—the route most heavily traveled each spring by illegal aliens, causing great stress and misery for the local residents.
The Minuteman Project's goal is to
"To bring national awareness to the decades-long careless disregard of effective U.S. immigration law enforcement."
"To protest the refusal of the Congress and the President to protect our borders from illegal immigrants who have not had criminal background checks by, and through, the U.S. Embassy in their home country, thereby creating an imminent danger to all Americans, and creating the dilution of US citizen's voting rights by foreign nationals."
Naturally, Project Minuteman has caused a stir on the Internet and among both supporters of immigration reform and open border advocates. Predictable charges of racism abound. But Gilchrist, a Marine veteran and Purple Heart recipient, remains unfazed.
"The racism is all on the other side," Gilchrist told me when we spoke earlier this week. "Take a look at the e-mail we have received and you'll see that the hate comes from our opponents, not us."(Read vulgar, anti-American e-mail sent to Gilchrist [with caution].)
"People who want to protect and ultimately save America include all colors, religions and nationalities," Gilchrist said.
As proof, Gilchrist points to the home page of his website that indicates a 40% participation rate of minorities among his 956 volunteers from all 50 states.
Gilchrist told me:
"The support is amazing. When I started out, I thought we would be lucky to get 200 volunteers. Now I would not be surprised if we end up with 1,500."
"We are all coming from the same place," Gilchrist continued. "We are simply going about our Constitutional right to peaceful assembly. We neither condone nor endorse violence and it will not be tolerated. We have put several disclaimers on our website to that effect. But nothing will stand in our way to exercise our First Amendment rights," Gilchrist insisted.
"If anyone has trouble grasping what our objective is," Gilchrist concluded, "just think of us as a neighborhood watch group. We are looking for illegal crossings by aliens. When we spot them, we will report them to the proper authorities."
According to Gilchrist, the Minuteman Project has already produced results.
"When MS-13 started talking about how they were going to meet us at the border to 'teach us a lesson we would never forget' I think it raised awareness at ICE that these are bad guys who need to be ferreted out and arrested. And that's just what happened," observed Gilchrist.
Throughout our conversation, Gilchrist frequently repeated that if the federal government enforced immigration law, then there would be no Minuteman Project.
Gilchrist pointed to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as symbolic of the government's failure.
Rice is said to have told Mexican officials that the Minutemen are "vigilantes" whose "illegal" activities will not be "tolerated." [VDARE.COM note: The bizarre anti-American website, La Voz De Aztlan has an inflammatory, anti-Minutemen quote attributed to Dr. Rice, but in the actual transcript of her press conference she is reported to have said, more diplomatically,
"And then finally, I think it's well known that the United States has a federal system, but obviously the United States Government would not condone any extralegal means to deal with immigration issues. That should be dealt with by immigration officials and we work very closely with our Mexican counterparts. We try and make sure that our borders are safe and secure as possible and that it is very important that the laws of the United States be respected."]
"What else is left for us to do but to peacefully assemble to show our strong resentment for being abandoned by Washington? I used to have respect and admiration for Rice. But now she is on my list as a reactionary and a Communist. Rice is not loyal to the U.S."
The irony of Rice's position is not lost on volunteers.
Noting that the Minutemen have not and will not do anything illegal but that illegal aliens from Mexico repeatedly break the law, Laura, a furious Minuteman volunteer, e-mailed Rice:
A few days back Mexican TV here in the U.S. reported that Mexicans were throwing rocks at you or the building you were in.
The day after 9/11, Mexicans were selling T-shirts that said 'Osama Bin Laden - OUR HERO!' …Mexico wrote a "Declaration of War" against the U.S. Its 'Guide for the Mexican Migrant' told millions of its people how to invade our country and also how to subvert our laws and get away with it. You did absolutely nothing.
Illegal invaders send back $18 Billion U.S. dollars a year and you do nothing. They take welfare, food stamps, social services, get free medical care and free education while Americans can't even afford medical insurance. Mexicans fill our prisons with their 'family values that don't end at the border' and you do nothing.
But when Americans join together to go to the border to help report non-violently where these criminals are sneaking in, you call us 'vigilantes' and say you will not allow them to break American law! WE'D LIKE TO KNOW WHOSE COUNTRY ARE YOU WORKING FOR???
But hostility among anti-American agitators continues to build against Gilchrist and the Minuteman Project.
Said Gilchrist, "Let him come. He has the same First Amendment rights that I do."
Gilchrist says that no matter what happens between now and April 1st, he and his volunteers will be on the Arizona-Mexico border carrying out its mission:
"Americans… operating within the law to enforce the law… and doing the job that Congress won't do."
Joe Guzzardi [email him], an instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, has been writing a weekly newspaper column since 1988. This column is exclusive to VDARE.COM.