Monday, May 23

FROM NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH TO BORDER WATCH: AMERICANS AT THE READY

If there's one thing that The Minuteman Project proved in April it is that patriotic, concerned, American citizens are willing to volunteer in a border watch program to aid and abet U.S. Border Patrol agents in the apprehension of illegal aliens and to do so in a responsible manner. Why even the prospect of their presence is effective in ways hardly imagined.

So it's no surprise that Congressmen heard this very theme from Robert Bonner last week, as the Customs and Border Protection commissioner testified before a House committee. The question becomes now, will anyone listen, given the president's and Congress' indifference to the plight of Americans being impacted by runaway illegal immigration and a porous borders' controversy that has been long on talk and short on action in our nation's capitol.

As "Voices Magazine" reports ("A Sound Immigration Proposal," written by Jon E. Dougherty, in the May 20th edition):

As the 850-plus volunteers with the Minuteman Project proved in April, when they deployed along a section of Arizona border, not only will the extra eyes help deter illegal immigration, but civilians can be counted on to augment Border Patrol agents without causing major incidents.

Bonner specifically acknowledged this in testimony before the House committee. "The actions of the Minutemen were, I believe, well motivated," he said. "There were no incidents, there were no acts of vigilantism, and that's a tribute to the organizers and leaders of the Minuteman Project."

He went on to note the obvious: That historically the government has relied on civilians to be "the eyes and ears of the Border Patrol along the border."

"We value citizens' help. The question would be, 'is there a way to ... better and more effectively harness the citizen volunteers?'" he said. "That is something we are looking at. I don't have the answer. But we want any kind of force multiplier we can get. But if we're going to do it, I think it's important we recognize the border is a dangerous area, and we want to be able to provide at least some insights and possibly even training to any citizens volunteering to go down."

No one knows how dangerous and out-of-control areas of the U.S.-Mexico border are better than many of the volunteers and residents who have weathered the immigration storm for years. If anything, they can teach Washington a thing or two about what it takes to get our borders under control.

Nevertheless, the fact that a high-ranking federal official has even suggested using willing civilians to augment our overwhelmed Border Patrol is a huge step in the right direction.

Suburban and rural communities for decades have had their own "neighborhood watch" programs, whereby residents keep a lookout for shady activities and alert police when problems arise. That's all the Minuteman Project – and similar, prior civilian initiatives – ever sought to accomplish.

Bill O'Reilly has been calling for the deployment of National Guard troops along our contiguous border with Mexico for a long, long time now. And I agree with him. But if not the National Guard, if not a beefed-up contingent of U.S. Border Patrol Agents, then let's put trained volunteers there to curb the human invasion from Mexico. Our "public servants" have long since run out of excuses.

HAT TIP: "Free Republic"