4/2005 - ( CD - Minutemen ) What border residents think of migrants and Minutemen...
- AZ Daily Star
>What border residents think of migrants and Minutemen
>By Michael Marizco
>ARIZONA DAILY STAR
>DOUGLAS - To hear a Minuteman Project volunteer tell it, people are
>robbed, raped and beaten by illegal entrants along this stretch of thethe
>Ask California activists, and they'll tell you how Arizona has become
>hate-state epicenter of the country.to
>In the latest immigration debate, perception has become more damaging
>this small border town than reality.he
>And the people who live along this stretch of the border are getting a
>little tired of it all.
>"There's been people tied up and robbed; I talked to one guy who said
>was robbed three different times," says Minuteman volunteer FreddyPuckett,
>a button that says "Kiss Me, I'm Ugly" pinned to his camouflage booniehat.
>"People are scared to death out here," the Cochise resident says.
>There's little evidence of it because people are afraid to talk, said
>fellow Minuteman, Oracle resident Ron Johnson.used
>In Palominas, John Evans watches Minuteman volunteers drive past. He
>to think they were vigilantes until he met them and found they were"pretty
>nice guys giving up a lot of their time for us."but
>He hasn't had many problems with illegal entrants or property crime,
>Evans said he supports what the Minuteman Project is doing.out into
>"What they're doing is going to spur some action," he said. "Something
>needs to be done."
>But other border residents like Darrell Van der Werf, view the
>self-described border guards as more of a nuisance than the illegal
>"They drive too fast, they go by making dust. Then they go
>sun under an umbrella and sit there. What the hell is that?" theBisbee
>Junction resident says.illegal
>"These people ain't got nothing else to do."
>In 30 years, he's been broken into once. The burglar, presumably an
>entrant, stole his gun but forgot to take the cylinder and stole ameatloaf
>that had gone bad.a
>"I hope he got sick off it," he said. "But the Mexicans never bother
>For 63 years, Lorene Hardt has lived on Border Road south of Bisbee in
>tree-covered home where she raised three children less than aquarter-mile
>north of the border.armed
>A decade ago, she was among the victims of a three-year string of 15
>robberies by border bandits initially thought to have come fromMexico.
>They turned out to be teenagers from nearby Bisbee and Naco.never run across an illegal entrant even though her
>Hardt said she's
>sits near one of the stretches of barbed-wire borderline the Minutemanwater
>volunteers patrol. Her encounters with migrants are limited to the
>jugs and other trash the people leave behind.day.
>She's never seen a Minuteman either.
>She did hear there was a group up the road from her place the other
>Illegal entrants? Minutemen?
>"No, I heard there was a group of reporters," she said.
>Maryann Vell, 78, is a border activist from up near Willcox who
>down to volunteer in the project twice a week. Border problems arenothing
>new, she says, but now there are too many coming too fast.for
>"They'll destroy us and destroy our world if it weren't for patriotic
>people like us."
>She's "very disappointed" more Arizonans haven't joined the Minuteman
>Ben Leiendecker, 80, will tell you different.
>"I'm my own Minuteman!" he said.
>The Palominas rancher keeps a .45-caliber pistol under his bed and has
>planned out how he'll react to a gunfight when the drug smugglers come
>He's faced problems with illegal entrants his whole life, he said.
>"They trash my pasture, they cut my fences. I'll spend half a day
>straightening the fence where they bend it to cross through," he said.
>"I'll tell you something: My family has lived here since 1912 and I'll
>fight to the death to stay here some more."
>His type of complaint is more common than the raping and pillaging the
>Minuteman volunteers discuss, county officials say.
>The Cochise County Sheriff's Department, which covers most the border
>except for Douglas, responds mainly to property crime reports onthe
>border, said department spokeswoman Carol Capas.were
>But other things do happen. In January 2004, the Sheriff's Department
>started a volunteer patrol in Palominas after a woman and her daughter
>beaten and stabbed by three illegal entrants. Last month, anAK-47-toting
>gunman led police on a high-speed chase from Interstate 10 and nearlymade
>it back to Mexico before he ran into a wall of federal gunfire northof
>But it's been about 10 years since border-related crime was a serious
>in Cochise County, she said. By contrast, there have been four casesof
>illegal entrants beaten and robbed by border bandits in the past year,she
>In Douglas, word of another protest, this one planned to shut down the
>of entry and boycott Douglas businesses, has local officials andmerchants
>The lead organizer for that protest, Armando Navarro, a University of
>California-Riverside professor and head of the National Alliance for
>Rights, said he's canceled the planned Saturday protest because heMeanwhile
>developed laryngitis. He said he'll return to Douglas eventually.
>he said he'll focus his protests in California, where the MinutemanProject
>will expand its border-watch effort.Mart gas
>When news of the Minuteman Project hit town, Raul Monta�o's Border
>station and convenience store north of the port of entry at Douglasborder,"
>suffered. Then news of the boycott hit, and business dropped, he said.
>During a similar boycott last week, he suffered a 25 percent loss in
>"That only happens when the groups come down and try to close the
>he said. Anita Garcia, owner of Nubes Steak House in Douglas,wondered
>loud why Californians think they need to protest in Arizona.don't
>"Shame on all those people. Why pick on Douglas all of a sudden? We
>need that kind of a bad name," she said.that
>She's lived in Douglas 59 years and is aware of the crime and violence
>hits this otherwise quiet town. But she says she's also aware of thesame
>problems anywhere else.chewing gum
>Across the port of entry, Carlos Puebla, 30, took a job selling
>to people waiting to cross into the United States.Arizona," he
>"If they're protesting Arizona, then please make them stay in
>"This port is what people make a living from."
>As a result of the flurry of protests and counter-protests, Douglas is
>getting an image problem and Mexican shoppers are staying away, said
>Manager Mike Ortega.Chamber of Commerce is launching its own media
>In response, the
>Sonora to encourage shoppers to please come back.Minuteman
>The plan to boycott Douglas to protest the Minutemen surprised
>Project supporter John Evans in Palominas.protest
>"What's that going to accomplish?"
>He thought about it for a moment, then grinned.
>"That's their right. Somebody protests and then somebody's going to
>him. That's just America, man."mmarizco@...
>? Contact reporter Michael Marizco at 573-4213 or at
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