April 2, 2006 in Nation/World

Minutemen armed with lawn chairs hold rally

Arthur H. Rotstein Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

Clyde Phillips claps during a Minuteman Project rally Saturday near Three Points, Ariz.
(Full-size photo)

THREE POINTS, Ariz. – Minuteman volunteers concerned about the continued flow of illegal immigrants across the border from Mexico gathered Saturday with lawn chairs, binoculars and cell phones for a new monthlong campaign aimed at raising public awareness.

Along with the meeting in Arizona, about 150 Minuteman volunteers turned out in Sumas, Wash., as part of the multistate campaign. “We’re going to be running posts both day and night,” said chapter organizer Claude LeBas, whose 10-acre farm was the staging area.

A year after their first watch-and-report operation along the border in southeastern Arizona, members of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps embarked on a much larger effort in Arizona’s busy migrant-smuggling corridor.

“I’m concerned about what’s not being done by the government – hasn’t been done for ages, apparently,” said J. Glenn Sorensen, a retired school administrator now living in Flagstaff.

Sorensen, who was not involved last year, said he thinks the organization has already accomplished part of its purpose, “to draw national attention to an insecure border. I don’t think anybody wants to close the border – I certainly don’t. Basically, I think they need to be secure.”

No one in the group had any illusions about their campaign’s effectiveness, since it targets a relatively short section of the border for just a month. However, it comes at a time when Congress is debating changes to federal immigration laws, which have drawn supporters of legitimizing illegal immigrants to demonstrations across the country.

“This is like sticking a finger in the dike,” said Ken Raymond, a retired electrical engineer and airplane mechanic from Tucson.

Yet some immigrants were apprehended. Minutemen volunteers in New Mexico alerted the Border Patrol to a group of immigrants Saturday.

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