October 31, 2005


On Patrol in Vt., Minutemen Are the Outsiders: Along the Border, Group Targets Illegal Immigrants (David A. Fahrenthold, 10/31/05, Washington Post)

The Minutemen have now come north, bringing to the woodsy, lightly populated 5,525-mile U.S.-Canada border the same kind of patrols that sprang up to curb illegal immigration from Mexico. Besides the patrols in Vermont, other Minutemen groups have set up watches this month in Washington state and Montana, Minutemen co-founder Chris Simcox said Sunday.

The Minutemen say the patrols here are a natural extension of their movement, which has grown to include chapters in large cities. One of these chapters, in Northern Virginia, has recently announced plans to patrol day-labor sites in Herndon to look for workers who have entered the country illegally.

The United States' northern border, according to the group, bears watching because it also has problems with immigrants being smuggled across, and because it could provide a way for terrorists to infiltrate the country.

"The Canadian border is the forgotten border," Buck said Saturday. "Nobody thinks about it as a problem."

But, as the patrols began this month, many who know the Canadian border well have said they are dubious that the Minutemen will have an impact.

For one thing, there is much less illegal traffic here. Border Patrol statistics show the contrast well: The post covering Vermont has 295 miles of boundary and made about 1,900 arrests last year.

By comparison, the McAllen, Tex., post -- which has about 40 fewer miles of border -- made 134,000 arrests.

"The odds of them seeing anyone are pretty slim," said Deborah Meyers, a senior policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute in Washington.

The terrain is another problem: Lt. Tom Hanlon of the Vermont State Police said the routes the smugglers use in this area are often snowmobile trails hidden in impenetrable backcountry.

"You get 10 feet off the road and you're in a dense forest. You can't see a thing," Hanlon said. "It's not like Arizona, where you can plop down and see for 50 miles."

Nevertheless, the Minutemen have come to Vermont.

They began scouting out potential sites several weeks ago, poking around this hamlet with a downtown almost directly on the border. It was in Derby Line that they had their first problem with the elusive border. On one scouting expedition, member Bob Casimiro said they became, for a moment, illegal visitors in Canada.

Then came their first official patrol two weekends ago, which was dogged by protesters who assembled downtown and shouted slogans such as "Take your hate out of our state." The Minutemen had to patrol a bike path away from town, and then -- as the Boston Globe reported -- got lost and had to ask a local for directions.

Over the weekend, the Minutemen decided to find a spot and stay put. They set up lawn chairs and looked out across a field at the trees. On Saturday afternoon, after several hours of watching, they had seen nobody and nothing suspicious.

"I think I saw a squirrel coming in. That's it," said Craig Courounis, 40, of Farmingdale, N.Y. He joked that the squirrel probably wouldn't be taking anybody's job while in the States.

It seems likely the squirrel can fill in for most of these guys at work.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 31, 2005 8:23 AM

Next time, you might consider doing just a wee bit more research into the matter.

Posted by: Illegal immigration news at November 1, 2005 3:59 AM