With illegal immigrants passing through the United States-Mexico border on a daily basis, the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps believes it is generating a sensible solution to offset the crisis.
Representatives of the corps, a group that calls itself a "citizen's civil defense operation monitoring the U.S. border, businesses and government," visited the Prescott Public Library for three hours Saturday morning to relay their position on the situation at the border to interested residents and register new members.
About 58 people from around Prescott showed up at the gathering where Chris Simcox, president of the corps, gave an impassioned talk about the dangers of illegal border crossings and their accompanying strain on America's safety and
After the meeting, held inside a library conference room, Simcox said his group has signed up 47 volunteers from Prescott who will help form the inaugural membership of the city's own chapter in the corps.
Bernie Meurrens, a 69-year-old man from Prescott, said he attended Saturday's session to understand the organization's inner-workings and activities. He's concerned about laborers that are coming to Prescott illegally and standing out in the open on street
corners waiting for work.
"From what I've seen in the time I've spent at the meeting, there's a need for a watchdog organization," Meurrens said. "We have elected officials who have the authority and the mandate to enforce the law, and they're not ‹ deliberately."
James Tebbetts Sr., 72, also came to the gathering out of curiosity and concern.
"Our federal government's not doing anything about the border, and it's not getting any better," Tebbetts said. "It's costing state and county governments lots of money because of all the stuff (services) we have to pick up that's not paid for by these people (illegals)."
The Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, a separate entity from the controversial Minuteman Project, has formed 73 official chapters in 34 states with 9,000 registered volunteers.
"This is a national group of citizens that are done complaining. They're activists," said Simcox, who feels strongly that the federal government is not doing enough to seal off the U.S. border with Mexico, causing a wave of crime and drugs to reach America's streets. "We are holding the government accountable to do its job."
The corps, which began as a citizens' initiative in 2002, has grown exponentially in membership since 2005. It recently added five new chapters in Florida, two in South Carolina and a pair in Washington state ‹ all with the intention of pressuring local and state governments to enforce federal immigration laws and keep illegals out of the American workforce.
"Our angst is with elected officials," said Simcox, a Phoenician who operates the corps' national headquarters in Scottsdale. "That's where we keep our focus."
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