The Minuteman Civil Defense Corps launched its first patrol in the Green Valley area Saturday and a spokesman pledged, “We’ll be back.”
The Tucson chapter leader said the Minutemen set up patrols along Elephant Head Road Saturday afternoon and evening in response to calls for help from Green Valley-area residents.
“The calls from people in Green Valley say they are being overrun by illegals, that they’re afraid to go out of their homes at night,” he said.
“We talked to the Border Patrol and they said the area was a hot spot and that proved right,” he said.
During the Saturday patrols, Minutemen sighted 13 illegals and the Border Patrol made nine apprehensions, he said.
“We’ll be back to the Elephant Head area and other places around Green Valley,” he said.
Minutemen are allowed to carry pistols for self-defense only, he explained.
“We have strict operating procedures which say that members may not remove their weapons from their holsters except for self-defense,” he said.
Anyone violating that policy is thrown out of the organization, he said.
Minutemen groups work with the Border Patrol and all sightings are reported to the Border Patrol, he said noting that members of his group are not allowed to detain or confront illegal aliens.
The Minuteman Corps is a controversial organization in some quarters. Critics call it a vigilante organization. The American Civil Liberties Union has consistently monitored its activities along the border.
Proponents say Minutemen volunteers are simply stepping in to fill a vacuum the federal government has left by failing to enact a comprehensive immigration reform measure.
Elephant Head resident Sally Nagel said she found the presence of the Minutemen patrol disturbing.
“They really don’t do a lot for the neighborhood, she said, adding that potential tourists and homebuyers are not going to want to come to the area “if it looks like East Berlin.”
Nagel said she notified the Pima County Sheriff’s office and was asked if Minutemen appeared to be doing anything illegal, such as waving firearms.
Nagel replied that they were not.
Lt. L.T. Pratt, commander of the Green Valley sheriff’s substation, said his office responded to calls about the Minutemen by going to the scene, but found nothing amiss “just the Minutemen doing their thing.” he said.
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