I spent this past weekend along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Friday night, I went out with U.S. Border Patrol agents searching for illegal immigrants. Then, Saturday morning, I met up with a large group of Minutemen volunteers who planned to build a fence along a remote patch of border.
If you have been following the border debate, you no doubt know about the Minutemen. They are volunteers who patrol the border, hoping to deter and detect illegal immigrants. They don't try to apprehend border crossers themselves; they watch them cross and call the Border Patrol. Their critics call them vigilantes. They respond by saying they are vigilant.
I didn't really know what to expect when I went to meet the Minutemen. At 8 a.m. Saturday, about a hundred volunteers gathered in a trailer park near the border. They set out in a convoy of trucks and SUVs to a remote section of the border where they began to build a barbed-wire fence.
There is a fence along parts of the border, but it stops from time to time. So the Minutemen began drilling holes for posts and stringing barbed wire. They didn't know if they would be stopped by the Border Patrol, but the atmosphere was festive.
Those unable to actually work on the fence cooked hot dogs and served sodas in the desert heat. For many, it was the first time they'd volunteered for the Minutemen, and they seemed happy to be doing something.
I asked one woman why she was there, and she said this is one issue where she actually feels she can make a difference. She said she couldn't do anything about the deficit or gas prices, but she could stand on the border and "be the eyes and ears" helping the border patrol.
There is a lot of debate about the effectiveness of building a fence along the border, and the Minutemen constructing the fence on Saturday admit what they were doing was largely symbolic. But it was a start, they say. I think the imagery of American citizens standing on the border and building a fence with their own hands is pretty powerful, and I think this may be a new front in the battle on the border.
I'd be interested to know what you think. Should Americans take matters into their own hands and build fences along stretches of the border that don't have any fences? The land they were doing this on was owned by the federal government. Even if the fence is barbed-wire and doesn't really deter people from crossing, is it worth building to send a message to our leaders? Would you help to build a section of fence along the border?
Tonight on "360," we'll have more on the Minutemen's fence building operation.