The Minuteman Project -- Amid Fuss, Project Works

By Mike McGarry
Volume 15, Number 3 (Spring 2005)
Issue theme: "Facing our geo-destiny: honoring the work of geologist Walter Youngquist"

Amid Fuss, Project Works

A Letter to the Editor of USAToday, posted April 13, 2005

Hundreds of Minuteman Project volunteers have done what the president has refused to do They have helped to effectively halt illegal crossings in a 23-mile section of the Arizona-Mexico border. Volunteers have shown how easy it would be for the U.S. government to do the same.

Consider the horrors and threats our 'neighbor watch' has frustrated along that section No longer are bandits harming and killing migrants. Illegal crossers aren't being robbed, raped and kidnapped. Deaths from exposure of illegals abandoned by 'coyote' guides have stopped. Women and children destined for sex-slave dens aren't being smuggled in.

Intruders from terror-sponsoring countries aren't getting through. Heavily armed drug traffickers are not now roaming the section with relative impunity. Criminals, including convicted murderers and agents of international organized crime, have been shut out. For now, relative peace has been restored to where Minutemen (some of them grandmothers in lawn chairs) are observing, reporting and avoiding contact with illegals.

The outpouring of support has been profound from locals who, for the first time in years, have peace, quiet and sleep - free from the ongoing clop-clop of helicopters and the fear of endless foreign trespassers.

Some Minutemen carry side arms, raising well-expressed concerns over the potential for accidents, or worse. Most of those volunteers, however, are retired police and military members who have carried weapons all of their adult lives and are intimately respectful of their potential, and of their utility at night where life-threatening wildlife - including rattlesnakes, bears and mountain lions - rule the desert's floor and arroyos.

Project opponents seem brokenhearted over its successes. Last week, an off-duty volunteer happened upon a border crosser who appeared in need. He provided the man a bowl of cereal, gave him $20, a hug and a T-shirt with playful wording. The American Civil Liberties Union called that benign encounter a 'potential powder keg.' Apparently, the hapless legal observers equate our humanitarian aid with an extremist agenda. However, we believed it the right thing to do.

Deploying civilian observers may not be the best way to guard a nation. But until the government reassumes its responsibility, expect to see more.

About the author

Mike McGarry is a Minuteman Project media relations volunteer from Aspen, Colo.