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Minuteman Project

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The Minuteman Project (MMP) is a group that aims to recruit individuals to volunteer to help prevent illegal immigration across the U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona. "Americans doing the jobs Congress won't do. Operating within the law to support enforcement of the law," its website states. [1]

The Minuteman Project modeled its name on the Minutemen from Massachusetts in the late 1700s. Initially launched in April 2005 as a month-long project, it caused concen about "unforeseen results" within the ranks of the U.S. Border Patrol. The Border Patrol's official position is "it doesn't need the project's assistance." [2]

The organization was created by Jim Gilchrist and Chris Simcox, but the later left the organization in April, 2005 and went on to rename his Civil Homeland Defense patrol group as Minuteman Civil Defense Corps Inc.[3]

About

On its website the group states their mobilization is "a call to peacefully assemble at the Arizona-Mexico border to bring national awareness to the decades-long careless disregard of effective U.S. immigration law enforcement. It is a reminder to Americans that our nation was founded as a nation governed by the 'rule of law', not by the whims of mobs of ILLEGAL aliens who endlessly stream across U.S. borders. Accordingly, the men and women volunteering for this mission are those who are willing to sacrifice their time, and the comforts of a cozy home, to muster for something much more important than acquiring more 'toys' to play with while their nation is devoured and plundered by the menace of tens of millions of invading illegal aliens." [4]

"Future generations will inherit a tangle of rancorous, unassimilated, squabbling cultures with no common bond to hold them together, and a certain guarantee of the death of this nation as a harmonious 'melting pot'", resulting in "political, economic and social mayhem." [5]

Leadership

  • Jim Gilchrist. Gilchrist is a retired Orange County, California, accountant. In 2005 he stated that he was considering a run for Congress. [1]
Main article: Jim Gilchrist

2005 Split in the minuteman movement and between Gilchrist and Simcox

In late April 2005 (after the April 2005 Minuteman Project operation on the Arizona-Mexico border), Chris Simcox split off from Jim Gilchrist and the Minuteman Project. Simcox then renamed his Civil Homeland Defense patrol group the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps. In July 2005 the San Diego Union-Tribune reported that he had been "establishing chapters in other states, with hopes of staging a borderwide patrol event in October." [2]

While Gilchrist said he and Simcox parted amicably, activists interviewed by the Union-Tribune said it was due to conflicting "egos" and competition for the "glamour" and "glory" of the media attention the minutemen received over their Arizona operation. [3]

The split was part of a larger round of infighting and splintering within the minuteman movement in the summer of 2005. In June 2005, Gilchrist cut ties with two volunteers he characterized as "wackos" after they took issue with emails he sent to Minuteman Project members promising consequences for those engaged in infighting. Gilchrist has said he has sought to copyright the "Minuteman Project" name (some groups use "Minuteman while others use "Minutemen"), but said, "If they want to use Minuteman, you can't stop them. To try to stop them would be to upset them." [4]

See also: Minuteman Civil Defense Corps Inc.

Reaction of Border Patrol agents

The Border Patrol's official position has been that professionals, not civilians, should guard the border. When the movement was splitting in 2005, Chris Bauder, President of the National Border Patrol Council - Local 1613 (San Diego), said he thought it had to do with clashing political ambitions. [5] However, that was a direct response to questions by the reporter regarding the political clash between the Andy Ramirez from Friends of the Border Patrol and other minutemen organizations. Ulimately, the National Border Patrol Council - Local 1613 (San Diego, CA) has consistently maintained that they respect the right of citizens to serve on the border in a capacity similar to a "neighborhood watch" program. The NBPC - Local 1613 is thankful for the attention that the minutemen organizations have brought to the border and are thankful to have assistance from volunteers.[citation needed]

Unfortunately, most of the minutemen organizations attempted to claim success at securing a section of the border by using the same strategy that has been employed by the Border Patrol since 1994 when Operation Gatekeeper was implemented in the San Diego Sector. This strategy requires the deployment of an excessive amount of resources to an area of the border. This strategy is referred to as "displacement" in the criminal justice field because the intent of the increased resources is to displace the unwanted activity to another location. In the case of the border, people who attempt to enter illegally are pushed to other areas of the border that have less resources. The strategy makes it look as though the operation is a success when in reality all of the traffic is just entering at another location of the border where there is less attention or less visibility by the public. The steadily increasing number of illegal aliens in the United States since 1994 has proven that the strategy is a failure and should be abandoned National Border Patrol Council - Local 1613 Media FAQ.

Other Minuteman-related groups

Minuteman Civil Defense Corps Inc.

Minuteman Civil Defense Corps Inc. is a similar group founded by Minuteman Project co-founder Chris Simcox after a split with Gilchrist in 2005 (see above). It has several affiliated groups, including the New Mexico Minutemen (not to be confused with the Minuteman Project-affiliated New Mexico Minutemen - see below).

Main article: Minuteman Civil Defense Corps Inc.

Texas Minutemen

A June 2005 story in the San Diego Union-Tribune cited Shannon McGauley as the leader of the Texas Minutemen and reported him as saying that he had trained with Gilchrist in Arizona and had obtained permission to use the Minuteman name. However, while McGauley said his group adhered to Minuteman Project operating procedures, he was uninterested in Simcox's Minuteman Civil Defense Corps. [6]

"We're all real Minutemen," McGauley said, "We all went to Arizona together and served in the desert with those snakes, where the trash was, with the scorpions. Our objectives are the same, but we just want to keep it a Texas operation. I don't want to be part of some corporation." [7]

California Coalition for Immigration Reform

A June 2005 story in the San Diego Union-Tribune cited Barbara Coe as head of the "controversial" California Coalition for Immigration Reform. In the story Coe complained about anti-illegal-immigration group leaders attacking Gilchrest, saying, "To me it is just incredible, with as much as has been accomplished thanks to Jim Gilchrist, that anybody would do anything to make even a little bump in the road." [8]

Friends of the Border Patrol

Friends of the Border Patrol planned to perform border patrols in San Diego County in September 2005 called "FBP Border Watch." It is run by Andy Ramirez, who ran two unsuccessful campaigns as a Democrat for the California state Assembly in the mid 1990s. In 2005 Ramierez declined to rule out the possibility of eventually running for federal office. The group received funding from the Carlsbad Republican Women Federated in May 2005. [9]

Border Watch

The Border Watch group is led by Jim Chase of Oceanside, California, who changed its name from the "United States Border Patrol Auxiliary" in 2005. Chase has been at odds with both Gilchrist and Simcox, among others. [10]

Chase and Andy Ramirez of the Friends of the Border Patrol attacked each other in a series of news releases and interviews in May 2005. Ramirez said he had received "alarming" e-mails from Chase and that he had condoned the use of snipers for a July 2005 event he was planning. Chase said Ramirez misunderstood him but Ramirez stood by his account. [11]

Chase said in 2005 that the fight between Ramirez and him drove him to publicly split with the larger minuteman movement, saying, "I keep hearing all these things: I'm a rogue. I'm a Rambo. I want to shoot the heads off people... I'm a flower child compared to Gilchrist and Simcox." [12]

Gilchrist says the two generally get along, but showed a reporter what he said was an e-mail from Chase saying, "In the name of the father, son, and holy spirit, come on James ... be a man or be an ass." [13]

Chase said he would eschew the spotlight and condemned the minuteman infighting, saying, "Anything I do is going to be hidden, covert." However, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported that Chase "is still working with other groups along the border, including a New Mexico group called the New Mexico Minutemen that is engaged in a rivalry with" a Minuteman Civil Defense Corps-sanctioned group of the same name." [14]

Record and controversies

Recent activities

Gilchrist said in 2005 that the group was awaiting non-profit status and that he hoped it would soon go after employers of illegal immigrants. [15]

U.S. Border Patrol

"The Department of Homeland Security recently assigned more than 500 additional border patrol agents to the Arizona-Mexico border. Many observers believe the move is a response to the Minuteman Project, a group of civilian volunteers who patrol the area looking for illegal immigrants." NPR, March 31, 2005.

Recruitment of volunteers

The search for volunteers commenced prior to November 1, 2004, when a recruitment notice by James W. Gilchrist of Aliso Viejo, California, then acting as "interim coordinator", was posted on the Frosty Wooldridge website. [6]

  • In Spring 2005, volunteers were asked "to converge on the southern border of Arizona for the purpose of aiding the U.S. Border Patrol in 'spotting' intruders entering the U.S. illegally."
  • Described as a "strictly" volunteer project, those who chose to participate would not receive "financial subsidies" but were advised that they would need "a tent, sleeping bag etc." and would "be responsible for all costs" involved, then estimated at up to $3,500 for 30 days, exclusive of travel.
  • The proposed "area of observation" was anticipated to "be a 10-mile stretch of forested highlands, and lowlands along the San Pedro River."
  • On November 1, 2004, the Project had already recruited "66 volunteers from the following 12 states: Arizona 36; California 11; Colorado 1; Florida 2; Massachusetts 2; NewMexico 4; Ohio 3; Oklahoma 1; Oregon 2; Texas 2; Virginia 1; Wyoming 1."

"Many of the volunteers were recruited over the Internet, and some planned to be armed." [7]

Connections with White Supremacy groups

"The Internet-driven recruiting effort for the Minuteman Project has almost 900 volunteers and last week alone generated more than 1 million hits on the project's Web site, organizers said. The organization claims on its website that it "has no affiliation with, nor will we accept any assistance by or interference from separatists, racists or supremacy groups or individuals, no matter what their race, color, or creed." [8]

However, "the patrol also has drawn major interest on white supremacist Web sites and in their chat rooms. An Aryan Nation site links directly to the Minuteman Project home page with the words: 'A call for action on part of ALL ARYAN SOLDIERS'," reported the Arizona Republic. [16]

Hedi Beirich, deputy director of the Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center, expressed skepticism over claims by Minuteman organizers' that they will be able to weed out white supremacists. "You have this vulnerable population crossing the border, and these semi-crazed Nazis who hate immigrants. It's just a combustible mix," she said. [17]

Minuteman organizer Chris Simcox, however, claimed that it screens applications from participants for connections to white supremacists and kicked one person off who was posting comments on a white supremacist website. Simcox said that he was upset about the links and comments from white supremacist websites but said there was nothing he could do about them. An Aryan Nation website listed the Minuteman operation on its calendar of "white power" events and has a chat room specifically for the operation that contained postings talking about killing Mexican soliders and sending them home in body bags. [18]

Gilchrest also denies charges of racism, saying, "Some people have said I'm racist, and that's just not true... My son-in-law is a full-on Mexican, and my grandson is half-Mexican... It's not a race thing. This is an enforcement of law issue. I've said this so many times I get tired talking about it." [19]

There has been some evidence that Neo-Nazis have been connected to the Minuteman Project, with the knowledge of the leadership. [9]

Allegations of minutemen screwing up Border Patrol operations

During a April 2005 convergence of Minuteman volunteers on the Arizona-Mexico border, the U.S. Border Patrol claimed the activists were accidentally setting of sensors that alert B.P. agents to border intruders. Supervisory Border Patrol Agent Jose Maheda said the actions were forcing agents to respond to false alarms. [20]

"Every sensor has to be addressed," Maheda said. "It's taken away from our normal operations." [21]

The Border Patrol opposed the Minuteman operation. "The possibility for something going drastically wrong is very high," Maheda said. [22]

The American Federation of Government Employees (AFL-CIO) Local 2544 Border Patrol union, whose website is often critical of agency policy, posted a comment in 2005 there that contradicted the Border Patrol's allegations:

MINUTEMAN PROJECT: We want to make it clear because we've had a lot of questions about this.....we have not had one single complaint from a rank-and-file agent in this Sector about the Minutemen. Every report we've received indicates these people are very supportive of the rank-and-file agents, they're courteous, many of them are retired firefighters, cops, and other professionals, and they're not causing us any problems whatsoever. Reports of them causing "ground sensors" to go off are exaggerated because most of those are being set off by the ACLU sneaking around trying to find the Minutemen doing something wrong. The Minutemen have succeeded in shifting the bulk of the illegal alien traffic out of the Naco corridor. If only President Bush were so supportive of the rank-and-file agents.[23]

General criticisms

Human and civil rights groups stated that they would monitor the situation to ensure that the rights of illegal immigrants are respected. [10]

Relationship with George W. Bush

President George W. Bush said that "he opposes a civilian project to monitor illegal aliens crossing the border, characterizing them as 'vigilantes.'" [24]

Contact details

The Minuteman Project Jim Gilchrist
P.O. Box 3944
Laguna Hills, California, 92654-3944
Website (General): http://www.minutemanproject.com/index.html
Website (Border Patrollers):http://www.minutemanhq.com

Articles and resources

SourceWatch resources

Sources

  1. Leslie Berestein, "Civilian patrols mushrooming, along with the infighting," San Diego Union-Tribune, July 6, 2005.
  2. Leslie Berestein, "Civilian patrols mushrooming, along with the infighting," San Diego Union-Tribune, July 6, 2005.
  3. Leslie Berestein, "Civilian patrols mushrooming, along with the infighting," San Diego Union-Tribune, July 6, 2005.
  4. Leslie Berestein, "Civilian patrols mushrooming, along with the infighting," San Diego Union-Tribune, July 6, 2005.
  5. Leslie Berestein, "Civilian patrols mushrooming, along with the infighting," San Diego Union-Tribune, July 6, 2005.
  6. Leslie Berestein, "Civilian patrols mushrooming, along with the infighting," San Diego Union-Tribune, July 6, 2005.
  7. Leslie Berestein, "Civilian patrols mushrooming, along with the infighting," San Diego Union-Tribune, July 6, 2005.
  8. Leslie Berestein, "Civilian patrols mushrooming, along with the infighting," San Diego Union-Tribune, July 6, 2005.
  9. Leslie Berestein, "Civilian patrols mushrooming, along with the infighting," San Diego Union-Tribune, July 6, 2005.
  10. Leslie Berestein, "Civilian patrols mushrooming, along with the infighting," San Diego Union-Tribune, July 6, 2005.
  11. Leslie Berestein, "Civilian patrols mushrooming, along with the infighting," San Diego Union-Tribune, July 6, 2005.
  12. Leslie Berestein, "Civilian patrols mushrooming, along with the infighting," San Diego Union-Tribune, July 6, 2005.
  13. Leslie Berestein, "Civilian patrols mushrooming, along with the infighting," San Diego Union-Tribune, July 6, 2005.
  14. Leslie Berestein, "Civilian patrols mushrooming, along with the infighting," San Diego Union-Tribune, July 6, 2005.
  15. Leslie Berestein, "Civilian patrols mushrooming, along with the infighting," San Diego Union-Tribune, July 6, 2005.
  16. Susan Carroll, "FBI, civilian group are concerned about racists joining border sweeps next month," Arizona Republic, March 5, 2005.
  17. Susan Carroll, "FBI, civilian group are concerned about racists joining border sweeps next month," Arizona Republic, March 5, 2005.
  18. Susan Carroll, "FBI, civilian group are concerned about racists joining border sweeps next month," Arizona Republic, March 5, 2005.
  19. Susan Carroll, "FBI, civilian group are concerned about racists joining border sweeps next month," Arizona Republic, March 5, 2005.
  20. "Border Patrol: Citizen Patrols Trip Sensors," Associated Press via FoxNews.com, April 4, 2005.
  21. "Border Patrol: Citizen Patrols Trip Sensors," Associated Press via FoxNews.com, April 4, 2005.
  22. "Border Patrol: Citizen Patrols Trip Sensors," Associated Press via FoxNews.com, April 4, 2005.
  23. Local 2544 website, Internet Archive capture on May 22, 2005.
  24. James G. Lakely, "Bush decries border project," Washington Times, March 24, 2005. Internet Archive capture from March 24, 2005.

External links

Calls for Volunteers

Articles & commentary

Pre-2005

2005

2006