10/16: Minuteman sent home for aiding immigrant
- Minuteman sent home for aiding immigrant
El Paso Times
In a strange turn of events, a Minuteman has been dismissed from the volunteer border patrol group for giving a ride, food and water to two undocumented immigrants, officials said.
The incident, which occurred two weeks ago near Hachita, N.M., led the Border Patrol to investigate whether the patroller from the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps was helping or detaining the migrants, both illegal actions. The agency presented its finding to the U.S. Attorney's office in Albuquerque, where officials declined to prosecute the case.
Minuteman officials said the man, a Colorado resident in his 50s, was driving on Highway 81 from one Minuteman encampment to another when he picked up the two migrants, who were hitchhiking.
Gary Cole, the group's operations manager, said the patroller gave the migrants food and water.
"They were not detained. They were assisted by some fool," Cole said.
The group dismissed the man after the incident and sent him home.
"This is probably one of the weirdest things. We're scratching our heads. He came down here to be part of the Minutemen and he gives illegal aliens a ride? He was a very dedicated person and appeared to fully understand what we were doing," Cole said.
American Civil Liberties Union volunteers who have been monitoring the Minutemen's activities said the Colorado man may have had more sinister motives.
"It's kind of scary. We don't know what he was planning," said Claudia Guevara, an ACLU coordinator.
Officials at the U.S. Attorney's office in Albuquerque declined to say why they did not take the case.
Hundreds of volunteers came down to the border this month to scan the desert for undocumented immigrants to report to the Border Patrol. Cole's group, which is based in Arizona, has a strict policy of not making contact with the migrants, officials said.
The 30 volunteers near Hachita said they have reported 60 sightings so far, which have resulted in 24 apprehensions by the Border Patrol. Border Patrol officials could not confirm the numbers.
In the latest incident, a Minuteman volunteer reported a woman and a child to the Border Patrol after they asked for his help getting out of the cold last Thursday. Border Patrol officials said the migrants were in good health. They were returned to Mexico.
Minuteman and ACLU officials also reported that the Minuteman volunteers called the New Mexico State Police last weekend claiming ACLU volunteers rammed a private fence with their vehicles near Hachita, which the ACLU volunteers denied. No one was arrested.
Louie Gilot may be reached at lgilot@...; 546-6131.