Border Patrol chief reaches out to Minutemen
Border Chief Reaches Out to Volunteers
By JEREMIAH MARQUEZ
The Associated Press
Wednesday, July 20, 2005; 7:56 PM
LOS ANGELES -- The top U.S. border enforcement
official said Wednesday that his agency is exploring
ways to involve citizen volunteers in creating
"something akin to a Border Patrol auxiliary" _ a
significant shift in rhetoric that comes after a
high-profile civilian campaign this spring along the
Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Robert C.
Bonner told The Associated Press that his agency has
focused on involving citizens after noting the
willingness of volunteers to help federal agents catch
"It is actually as a result of seeing that there is
the possibility in local border communities, and maybe
even beyond, of having citizens that would be willing
to volunteer to help the Border Patrol," Bonner said.
Volunteers would need training and be organized "in a
way that would be something akin to a Border Patrol
auxiliary," he said. "We value having eyes and ears of
citizens and I think that would be one of the things
we are looking at is how you better organize, let's
say, a citizen effort."
Bonner characterized the idea as "an area we're
looking at." Questions such as what kind of authority
volunteers would be given _ would they be deputized to
make arrests or carry guns _ haven't been answered.
"This is what we need to study," said Bonner, who was
in Los Angeles to discuss port security.
In April, hundreds of volunteers joined the Minuteman
Project to patrol a 23-mile stretch of the
Arizona-Mexico border, generating international
attention and criticism and spawning similar
Until now, Border Patrol officials have generally
criticized civilian efforts to police the nation's
borders, saying it was the job of trained law
enforcement officers. President Bush has expressed his
opposition to border "vigilantes."
"The Border Patrol does this every day, and they are
qualified and very well-trained to handle the
situation," Bonner said in February, noting that the
Minutemen planned to carry firearms. "Ordinary
Americans are not. So there's a danger that not just
illegal migrants might get hurt, but that American
citizens might get hurt in this situation."
Customs and Border Protection had yet to tell Homeland
Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and other top
departmental officials of its discussions, though they
would be briefed in coming months once the agency came
up with a proposal, said CBP spokeswoman Kristi
"All proposals are being considered, including
clerical work by volunteers that would free up more
agents to secure our borders," Clemens said.