Thursday, May 05, 2005

Recent Minuteman Project Along Border With Mexico Mirrors Guardian Angels

Private patrolmen on our streets might sound like a good idea - the police certainly can't catch every criminal in the act. But a recent rise of volunteer patrol movements locally and nationwide has become controversial.
The idea of private citizens patrolling public spaces made news on a national level earlier this year when hundreds of volunteers - some armed with guns and other weapons - patrolled Arizona's border with Mexico. They said they were there to stop illegal immigrants from crossing into the United States. Last week in Racine, the Green Bay chapter of the national Guardian Angels - a group that puts citizens in the place of police officers - visited the city to assess prospects for a local chapter. Along the Arizona border, roughly 900 volunteers, largely recruited over the Internet for a program called the Minuteman Project, ended its monthlong patrol along the border this past weekend. By calling the Border Patrol once they spotted illegal immigrants on U.S. land, the group claims its volunteers contributed to several hundred arrests. Minutemen officials say they are ready to expand their project along the Mexico border and even send some volunteers to the U.S. border with Canada. Supporters say the job of securing the border needs to fall to average citizens.