Monday, January 30, 2006
On patrol with the Minutemen
One of the first things members of the Minutemen told me while patrolling the Mexican border is that they reject the notion they are a "vigilante" group. Take the "e" off that word, they say, and you get their more favored term: "vigilant."

We spent an afternoon and evening with the group that tries to stop Mexicans from crossing the border. We rode, walked, and climbed with them on a piece of unguarded frontier about 70 miles east of San Diego for a story for tonight's program.

They have binoculars and night-vision goggles. Two members carried guns -- for self-defense, they say. They also carry a great deal of resentment that the U.S. government doesn't spend more money on keeping the border closed.

We saw clothes, water bottles, hats, and scarves discarded by illegal immigrants who successfully crossed into the United States. We saw hundreds of rattlesnake holes that I hoped no longer housed their usual occupants.

But on our night with the Minutemen, we didn't see any people trying to sneak across the border. The Minutemen say few people try to cross the border where they are. And that's just the way they want it.
Posted By Gary Tuchman, CNN Correspondent: 5:17 PM ET
  34 Comments
I am amazed that we have minutemen.

We need illegal immigrants in our workforce. Period.
Posted By Anonymous C., Washington DC : 5:41 PM ET
Question - What do the minutemen do if they happen to catch someone crossing the boarder? Also, if so few people are actually crossing at that location - why are they consistently patrolling that area? What's the need or goal?
Posted By Anonymous Joi-An - Dallas, TX : 5:50 PM ET
We need immigrants in our work force. We can't have illegals in our country.
Posted By Anonymous John, Grand Rapids, Michigan : 6:03 PM ET
Oh please. No wonder CNN has the reputation for being the propaganda tool of the far right wing Bush regime.

The Minutemen are a bunch of racist losers who sit around in lawn chairs with automatic weapons hoping to kill someone with dark skin.

The problem with the border won't be solved by these thugs.

People have been traversing this corridor for thousands of years. These people do the manual labor in the USA.

These people crossing the border want what everyone who has migrated to this country wanted, and that includes the ancestors of these WHITE racist gangs hanging out in the borderlands.

Furthermore, CNN needs to stop being such a myopic tool of the right wing.

If you want to see real terrorists in the USA then you need only look at the very racist right wing groups calling themselves militias.

Timothy McVeigh was a white, Christian, military man born and raised in the USA.

He came from the same ranks as these Minutemen.

You won't to stop terror, then stop supporting armed thugs who's only purpose in life is to use other people as scapegoats for their own ignorance and fear.
Posted By Anonymous Jim Rucson AZ : 6:21 PM ET
Sounds like a Geraldo story, empty safe: empty tunnel. Immigrants are not the problem, US policies & Mexican gov't are.
Posted By Anonymous Frankie, Maine : 6:27 PM ET
Every civilization in modern times has had a "guest worker" program. This type of program makes it legal and safe for workers to come here and do the jobs no one else wants to do. It also means we can tax their wages. Why the arrogance of the US has gotten in the way of such a program, I don't understand. As it is, we are killing people who only want to work. My heart breaks when I think of a young man trying only to feed his family, but then who gets lost in the desert crossing.
Posted By Anonymous MaryAnn S., Irvine, California : 7:34 PM ET
Having lived in Southern California for most of my life, it is very easy find the "illegal" aliens who are looking for work. Drive down certain streets in our city or stand in front of certain 7-11s at 6:00 am on any given day and you will see dozens of them standing by the side of the road or building waiting for someone to come by and get them. It is not as if we don't know where to find the "Mexicans" or the other economically displaced people from South America, China, Africa or ? Looking for the streets of gold...

It is more concerning that people from our area would be more concerned with keeping "Mexicans" out of the US when it is California's use of water from the Colorado River that has kept areas in Mexico too arid for agrarian. There are many issues surrounding the overpopulation problem in Mexico, not the least of which are the internal agrarian policy of the Mexican government or the international water policy which prevents vast sections of Mexico from receiving their historic share of the water that the US uses.

What I am more concerned about is if a 5 kilo bag of cocaine can be transported across the border now, then when is the 5 kilo container of plutonium going to cross the border.

We should go back to the guest worker program, but that is an entirely separate issue on immigration.

When I think of the word Minutemen I think of the men who fought to preserve Freedom during the Revolutionary War, those who stood to defend the Freedom of their families and their nation. I am not sure what I think of the self appointed keepers of freedom on our border. While I would support keeping terrorists out of our country, I am not sure that I would support their "keep'n the Mexicans out" attitude.
Posted By Anonymous Ashley, San Diego,CA : 7:34 PM ET
Ultimately there are individuals who are stupid enough to believe that tis is about race. This is about people breaking the laws of the United States and entering illegally. Yes we should have legal means for entering the U.S. in the form of guest worker. No we should not ever have people break the law and the U.S. ignore it. Where would that end?

The Minutemen are not racist, they are doing the job no one else seems willing to do. If it were millions of caucasians, africans, slovic, anglos, or asians, the response would be the same.

Calling these people undocumented workers and the like is a misnomer. We should call them what they correctly are, criminals.
Posted By Anonymous R. Guzman, Austin, TX : 8:47 PM ET
You know the only reason we need illegal crimnals to do the manual labor in this country is because we have to many lazy legal citizens on the welfare system who refuse to work!! I have lived all my life in a border state and I support the Minutemen 100%. I'm ALL for closing the border and kicking out all the illegals, and ALL for getting more of those Lazy Welfare recipients out into working mans jobs.

CLOSE our Borders NOW!! STOP the National ID card!! Get those LAZY legals OFF well fare!!
Posted By Anonymous Anna, 4 corners NM : 10:47 PM ET
i bet you that if osama bin laden and gang shave their beards and leave some mustache ,put on some sombrero hats and cowboy boots,they can easily cross that border totaly undetected and wreak havoc ! think about it,country is at war,when you go to war,first thing you do is seal the borders,and focus on wining it
Posted By Anonymous dt,salt lake city : 11:06 PM ET
These people are desperate, they come from conditions that most of us cannot imagine. When we had our office along the rail road tracks we would catch the illegal aliens eating out of our dumster. Every so often we would put a loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter outside near the dumster or a bag of oranges. It was always gone by morning. We never had any problems with them breaking into our business or any other problems. I don't think of them as criminals. Show a little human kindness.
Posted By Anonymous Lillith, Del Mar California : 11:10 PM ET
America for Americans...regardless of race, period. That being said, with every illegal crossing into the US, the closer we are to becoming like Mexico...a 3rd world country. I see
this as I live in Texas. If an illegal couple enters the US, and has a child, the child is an American. So, they all get to stay. You can expect several more children from the family. Of coarse, this leaves the mother to stay home and take care of the children. This leaves the father to bring home the money. How much does an illegal make? About $8.00 an hour. That is not enough for a single person to make it on, let alone a family. So, our tax dollars go to pay for TANF (Welfare), food stamps, low- income-housing, and their children's education. That's about $10,000 a year per family. And you wonder where your tax dollars go. What about keeping our tax dollars for our own people, the poor, and the homeless. Bottom line, US tax dollars for US citizens. And, we do not need illegals in the country. Proof: You will not find them in the Northern part of the country, but they get by just fine.
Posted By Anonymous Brian Malone, Austin TX : 11:25 PM ET
I can see the need for the Minutemen not only this situation but in similar situations across America. There comes a time and a place where someone has to stand up and do the job that no one else wants to do. How many times have we heard politicians speak of controlling our borders and protecting the American people only to hear about illegal immigrants strolling across the border daily?

These people are an example of what makes a free country successful. They see a need, and they find a solution to satisfy that need. In this case the need is simply time and manpower to protect our borders, and they are willing to give both to ensure that at least one section of our border is semi-protected.

I will say, however, that even though I back their patriotism and desire to protect America, there is not enough information here to come to an educated conclusion.

Great questions have been raised. "What do they do when they catch someone?" - "What are the illegals bringing across our borders?" Don't just think drugs or illegal materials; think about diseases and infections.

I think that the action of taking action is wonderful, with the precursor that the action has to be ethical and moral. Keeping illegal aliens out of America is great as long as it is carried out in the correct manner.
Posted By Anonymous M. Morris, Nashville, TN : 11:33 PM ET
I read so many coments about illegals coming here and taking over the jobs that Americans don't want. Well keep letting them in and you will see them inching up the ladder and taking over most every job here in the USA. Its already happening here in Charlotte. They do most of the carpentry/ drywall / painting/ landscaping. just watch , you will see. I say build a double fence across the border and protect our jobs. Maybe some day in America if we keep letting them in , The only jobs available to us will be either doctors or lawyers. Then where will all the college graduates work??? Wendys?
Posted By Anonymous Joseph Shriver Charlotte N.C : 11:50 PM ET
I think the attitude that the US needs cheap foreign laborers is very wrong, no matter whether they are legal or not. This attitude stops technology development in labor-intensive industries and leads eventually to a more polarized society.

The cost of labor is only a small portion in a housing price. And, do we really need home-made agricultural products that are produced by foreigners? Isn't it a hidden outsourcing of American jobs?

Minutemen are trying to attract our attention to the problem, but it is not going to work. The Californians are so used to cheap labor that they will not support any change until some violent riots occur.
Posted By Anonymous Alex, San Diego CA : 12:08 AM ET
The gentleman from Ruscon would do well to not resort to using ad hominems in lieu of a real argument. Throwing around labels like "racist losers" and "thugs" is not a respectful view and ultimately does his side of the immigration debate a huge injustice. Also, his comparison of the Minutemen to Tim McVeigh is out of line and almost farcical.

I think what the debate lacks is the perspective of the immigrants.

This also raises the concern with NAFTA. If companies expect to venture southwards to seek cheaper labor, people shouldn't be surprised that some immigrants might actually want to venture northwards to seek better wages. Wages have decreased by 20 percent in some sectors in Mexico, directly or indirectly because of NAFTA. If I were in the immigrants' position, I wouldn't act any differently.

And wasn't the purpose of NAFTA to eliminate duties and phase out tariffs on trade between Canada, the US, and Mexico; thereby establishing free trade? Isn't the very definition of free trade the free exchange of goods and labor?

If Americans are concerned with spiraling illegal immigration, they might want to ask their government to revisit NAFTA.
Posted By Anonymous Matt San Diego, CA : 12:18 AM ET
Oh please, we've ( Americans ) have allowed immigrants to come into this country and take the jobs Americans don't want because we think we've risen above the manual labor jobs at minimum wages. Now we have so called " minutemen" because we want to stop them from coming over the borders. Wake up call...we should have closed our borders a long time ago, Sept. 11th should have been a wake up call but obviously it wasn't.
Posted By Anonymous P. Marotta, Wauconda Illinois : 12:32 AM ET
Perhaps we should be more concerned why Americans, who are capable of working, are unwilling to work the jobs that the illegal aliens are doing. It is the people who employ illegals who should receive the closest scrutiny, since they are also breaking the law, and giving people a reason to come to this country illegally in the first place.
Posted By Anonymous Kerrie, Stockton, California : 1:25 AM ET
All countries have borders. They exist as a means to
preserve a country's economic, financial and social
integrity and stability.
The border with Mexico is important because the inequity
economically,financially and socially is so great that
without border control our social anf financial well being will be jeapordized.
Although I live 500 miles from the border now - I grew up in a border town. I used to think the workers from south of the border werre hard working and an asset to our country.
30 years later - It is apparent to me that we are being
over run by people who have not bothered to wait in line to immigrate legally. They are bringing their families (also illegaly) and in the process - keeping workers wages artificially low.
We as people of the U.S.A. - do not need to feel sorry for the economic plight of the people of latin america.
They should help themselves.The first place to start is
by managing the size of their families. If their families were smaller - they would not have as many mouths to feed.

I am a liberal from Berkeley, California. I have lived and
worked abroad both legally and illegally . I have
traveled to more than 55 countries over a 5 year period.
This is my view of illegal immigration in the U.S.
Posted By Anonymous R. Allen, Berkeley, CA : 1:40 AM ET
God bless Sister Doris! What is her story and how could someone donate to her worthy and blessed cause?
Posted By Anonymous Lee, Marysville, Washington : 1:51 AM ET
This is a very important and interesting issue and it's always cool to see articles and news programs about it. When I visited my grandparents in Arizona last August we talked about the Minutemen groups in their state. We drove from Tucson to San Diego during my visit and my grandfather pointed out a lot of evidence of illegal immigration. They know a couple of people from their church that routinely go out into the desert to refill water barrels for the dehydrated immigrants, and I think it is very admirable. I wonder if the Minutemen groups ever do things like that? It would be fascinating to accompany these people on their patrols and see what they're actually doing out there, and I was really glad to watch this report.
Posted By Anonymous Katherine - Anchorage, Alaska : 2:41 AM ET
What I do not understand is the fact that the U.S. is so willing to push us into being bi-lingual, (not to say that is wrong), to make our government look better and yet they are so unwilling to disregard anyone who can not give us anything in return.

I understand in order to keep our economy going and to keep our own lives in good standing we need those who can give us something we can over charge others for.

But these "illegals" are helping us, as was said in a previous blog, they are taking the jobs no one else wants to do!

I think we do need someone watching out for us along borders, but I do not think we should keep saying they do not deserve to have freedom.

I mean isn't that what we all want?
Posted By Anonymous M. R. SLC, UT : 5:01 AM ET
My first thoughts before viewing last night's story about the Minutemen, was to judge them as a bunch of gun-slinging, narrow-minded people who think the only way to accomplish a task is to take matters in to their own hands, in other words, vigilantes.

They actually seemed to be a bunch of regular people who are just trying to aid the boarder patrol and keep the immigrant situation under control at least in their own back yard if not anywhere else. They don't grab guns when they see people trying to cross; they grab a cell phone and call authorities. Whether or not you agree with their purpose or methods, I think it is fair to say most of us have a natural instinct to protect the place we live.

In a perfect world, immigrants who wish to enter this country to live decent and productive lives should be given every opportunity to do so legally. Lack of money, lack of resources and lack on common sense on both sides of the border will continue to prevent that from happening.
Posted By Anonymous Christine, Canton, OH : 8:46 AM ET
I was struck by the courage of the average everyday American citizens (The Minutemen)doing the job the government refuses to do. If you have spent any time along the border, you know the dangers the desert holds. Drug and people traffickers, mountain lions and yes, rattlesnakes to name a few. They would be stupid to go out there without a gun! Nonetheless, I saw no rifles, only sidearms for personal protection.

I know some of these men and women. They are not racists hunting immigrants with guns. Many of them, including the leader of the California movement, have multiracial families. Calling them racists is simply ignorant. Its designed to push an emotional button and get people all worked up. The true racists are those that put their own people at risk for a few pesos.

The Minutemen have a policy of no contact whatsoever with anyone coming across the border and their very presence in an area prevents people from crossing. Thats the idea.

Both the Mexican and US Governments should be ashamed. Their lack of action on this issue puts illegal immigrants and average Americans at risk. We spend billions every month protecting countries all over the world and leave our own back door open. As for CNN being the myopic mouthpiece of the far right wing, what planet do you reside on? Thats a new one on me. Gave me quite a chuckle. You can't be serious.

Never thought I'd say this but nice job CNN.
Posted By Anonymous Paul Rodriguez, San Diego CA. : 9:24 AM ET
Hey Jim from AZ, I think you are confusing CNN with Fox News. Can't get any more "right" then that.
Posted By Anonymous R-Albuquerque, NM : 10:11 AM ET
"CNN is a propaganda tool for the far right wing Bush regime"? I'm curious, when you are viewing a program on CNN, what does it usually say in the lower- right corner of your screen - is it F-O-X?
Posted By Anonymous Leslie, Portland, OR : 10:35 AM ET
It is just incredible to see all these ignorants that have a Hispanic last name writing against their own kind. I think the minuteman are just lazy people. If they are so worried about illegal aliens taking their job then why aren't they working instead of just sitting there waiting for an illegal immigrant to cross the border?
Posted By Anonymous P gonzalez san antonio tx : 5:47 PM ET
"ALIENS"? ARE THEY FROM OTHER PLANETS.
Posted By Anonymous Is Sandoval Chicago Il : 7:31 PM ET
Incredible that anyone (especially an American) would condon illegal aliens to enter this country just to do the work that no one else wants, Really? How idiotic of these people to even think that way. very unAmerican
Hay its the WAGE issue not the jobs. You pay people a decient enough wage and they will do any type of honest work, period.
Look at all these construction sites (especially in Florida, and now the New Orleans area, and see who is working the jobs, illigals. But you now will see most illigal aliens have left Florida for the bigger paying jobs of the New Orleans area after Katrina, more pay that is the key get it? (that is until after some of the damn criminal contractors they work for get their monies for jobs completed, and split leaving those poor illigal aliens high and dry. ONLY IN AMERICA.
These businesses will sell their mothers out to make an illigal $$$$ off the backs of these people that is NOW the American way, besides we're close to becoming a third world country just like those we would kick out. Good Luck America,and the next time vote for someone who stands up for the working class who are trying to make an honest living
Posted By Anonymous William Jefferson, Navarre, Fl. : 9:38 PM ET
How unfortunate that some US Citizens still do not understand the great contributions that the undocumented immigrants (not illegal)make to this country. If this vigilante group got its wish and have all undocumented immigrants leave this country, the economy would be greatly affected.
Maybe if everyone understood that this country is what it is because of undocumented immigrants that arrived at this country many years ago, we could all worry about making this an even better and stroger country; instead of trying to get rid of honest, hard working people.
Posted By Anonymous L. Hernandez-Chavez, Austell Ga : 6:01 PM ET
Ignorants? I rest my case. The Minutemen have jobs Mr. Gonzalez. In fact if you are unfortunate enough to catch the avian flu this winter and survive it, you can thank a Minuteman. He discovered the vaccine for that disease.

This is not a race issue either. Its why people like me of Hispanic heritage can see past the racist nonsense and see illegal immigration for what it really is: ILLEGAL.

It cost the taxpayers in the state of CA over $10Billion in healthcare alone last year for people who do not pay taxes and do not live in this country legally. Thats just healthcare. Factor in welfare, education, foodstamps etc and the number is much higher. I would rather subsidize the farmers and help them pay higher wages to legal field workers than pay outrageous taxes for people who are not entitled to that benefit.

If you want a true welfare state. Move to France. It works so well there too ;)
Posted By Anonymous Paul Rodriguez, San Diego CA. : 7:40 PM ET
If the Minutemen want to stop illegal immigration they should stand not at the border, but in the parking lot of Home Depot, armed not with guns, but work gloves.
Posted By Anonymous Phil, Los Angeles, California : 10:42 PM ET
It is very interesting to read about such topic, it really brings the "true colors" in some/most of us. At the same time i would like to ask this question do you really believe that jobs are taken from Americans by these "illegals"?...have any of us complaint to our own Politicians or ask ourselves why the BIG Corporations(GM, LEVI'S, and now FORD, etc) that have been closing factories and plants all over the US and taking them abroad (have you look at the manefacturing labels from your underwear to refrigerators and cars)for the "sake" of profit, or is it easier to blame it on the "illegals"?
last week whe Ford made the announcement about the job cuts, from the pictures that seen, no one put up a fight the way you all are doing here!!!!!
Posted By Anonymous FDP, El Paso TX : 11:18 PM ET
I think you need to get it straight.
This group does not "try to stop Mexicans from illegally crossing into the U.S." They only observe and report to the Border Patrol when they spot illegal aliens trying to sneak across the border into America.

Thanks.
Posted By Anonymous RD Rogers, San Diego, CA : 3:50 PM ET
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