Raine: What is your opinion of Bush’s proposed guest worker program? Do you feel it will alleviate some of the human traffic through the southern Arizona desert?
We already have a guest worker program, in fact two or three times over. We have work visas available, green cards, guest permits, student visas. These opportunities have done nothing to stop the traffic and the deaths in the desert. We already have laws on the books and a system that should insure people who enter this country do it through the orderly queue. The problem is we don’t enforce the laws, nor do we support and follow up on the system in place. Remember, all the terrorists involved in the attacks of September 11, 2001, came in legally because we are a kind, generous and forgiving country which accepts the world with open arms. Unfortunately we, the American citizens in charge of the system, did nothing to make sure the innocent well-intentioned visitors followed our rules. The problem of border incursions has grown to the out-of-control point that we must have the military on the border to close the gate. We must demand and insure that only those who choose to enter legally—no exceptions—will be allowed to remain in our country. And there is nothing wrong with demanding that people follow the rules. After all, is that not what people have demanded from the volunteers of CHD?
Sure, most people involved in stopping illegal immigration and the drug dealers agree that they will gladly accept a revamped guest worker program. But not until after we seal the border for a period of time to see to it that we stop the crime and get a grip on management of immigration into this great country. We need immigrants. We are immigrants and most of us developed into committed Americans after immigrating. Many of us come from families that have a legacy of stories about waiting for our turn, arriving in America broke and destitute, managing to become something. Eventually you understand that being an American citizen involves more than just arriving on U.S. soil. You learn that being an American citizens means understanding the importance of rule of law and personal sacrifice. You are guaranteed equal protection and fair treatment; however, no one owes you anything other than respect, and that you have to earn. Now we let people steal it thinking we are better for their presence.
Raine: Do you find that law enforcement is generally grateful and supportive for the work you do?
We had a Cochise County Deputy Sheriff attending our very first public meeting and we have been interviewed by and infiltrated by the F.B.I, state attorney general, the governor of Arizona and even had elected officials along on patrols. We have been thoroughly checked out. If you know anything about our federal government then you must know that they know everything about you, especially if they want to. Our relationship with law enforcement is what it should be: we have a mutual respect for law and order.
In the beginning, we were under a great deal of scrutiny. Border Patrol agents were wary and careful. They soon realized we were doing nothing to harm people that we encountered. By the time agents arrived on scene to take control of groups from us, they found them laughing and at ease under our watchful eye.
They soon discovered we provided water, first aid and food for children in the groups. They now seem to openly accept us and treat us with respect.
In the past some Border Patrol agents, especially supervisors, have gone out of their way to harass the volunteers on citizen patrols. They often ignore a group of illegals sitting on the ground and proceed to interrogate us—checking I.D’s, gun permits(which they discovered we did not have to have) and CCW permits if we had weapons concealed. We had supervisors lie to us about laws and rules; many supervisors attempted to intimidate us and scare us away with threats of arrest. It was they who went away with their tails between their legs after being told that they were abusing their power. We firmly expressed our point of view that they, the Border Patrol, worked for us, not for the criminals who were entering our country illegally.
Border Patrol soon learned that we were providing a great deal of tangible assistance. Many of the agents have been incredulous that we can peacefully get so many people to sit and wait for Border Patrol to arrive. Many times they have sent in helicopters to pin down groups we discovered; we never even had to come close to face-to-face encounters— the way it should be. To put it in perspective, how can anyone argue with the fact that we assisted Border Patrol in locating 2,578 people who would have succeeded in breaking into our country illegally?
As of today, 99% of the agents we interact with tell us how much they appreciate our efforts. We have had 7 encounters where Border Patrol agents worked with us to track and locate groups who ran from the “proper authorities”. We have had instances when the Border Patrol agent on scene has felt comfortable enough to leave us with the group while they went on foot pursuit of the smugglers who ran. It works and it works well. That has been the idea all along: to assist Border Patrol in a job the President of the United States will not do. Only the President can stop the madness by augmenting Border Patrol with National Guard and/or specially trained military personnel. Nothing will stop the invasion until we have the will to do just that.
Conversely, Border Patrol and other local law enforcement agencies know that if any volunteer of this group ever broke the law we would expect the law enforcement system to intervene and do their job. They know that if I personally ever caught another citizen abusing anyone where we work, whether or not it was an illegal immigrant, we would make a citizen’s arrest of the abuser under the same rules of engagement.
Every one of the people we have turned over to Border Patrol has been interviewed by Cochise County detectives and/or federal agents. No complaints have ever been filed against us because there has never been an incident of abuse and we have the video to prove it. My best insurance policy is my video camera; video evidence does not lie. We videotape every encounter and save the tape for a period of time until we know that no complaints have been filed. In the situation of the one complaint filed against us by members of a group of illegals, it never even reached the point where we would have to produce the video in our defense. I almost wish it had reached the point of everyone overreacting. Then we could have shown them the video to embarrass them and uncover their nefarious attempts to accuse us falsely of a crime. So I ask, just who is breaking the law?
If the government does not feel comfortable with “we the people” doing the job, they can easily remedy the situation by doing their job and securing our borders with U.S. military personnel. It will be the only way to get us off the patrols and—trust me—the day can’t come soon enough. We all think it is ridiculous that the government has ignored the problem to the point that we citizens must do the job. We will be more than happy to pack up and return to our regular scheduled lives.