A group of anti-immigration advocates with ties to white supremacist groups have organized themselves as “Minutemen” to patrol the Arizona border this month looking for illegal immigrants. Many are reportedly armed. Their web site states that they undertake these actions because: “Historians will write about how a lax America let its unique and coveted form of government and society sink into a quagmire of mutual acrimony among the various sub-nations that will comprise the new self-destructing America.” The Minutemen Project denies direct ties with white supremacist groups but their language and agenda clearly promote the agenda of racism. The Southern Poverty Law Center reports:
Minuteman organizers say they have carefully screened applicants to weed out members of white supremacist organizations. In late February, they boasted they were even "working with the FBI on background checks," but then backed off that claim when the FBI stated it was false.
"Whatever the Minuteman project's peaceful assurances may be, this is a volatile situation," says Mark Potok, director of the Center's Intelligence Project. "There have been many documented cases of other vigilante patrols violating human rights on our Southern border, and the prospect of armed extremists searching for migrants in the desert is scary. The potential for violence is real."
Numerous white supremacists have claimed in online postings to be registered as Minuteman volunteers. One who posted to the Minuteman Project forum on the major white power website Stormfront wrote: "While this project is not a White racialist event, per se, it's a project that deserves backing from the White Nationalist community in general."
A self-professed member of the white supremacist organization National Alliance posted to the same forum: "While Minuteman is not affiliated with 'Hate Groups' (like the ones you or I belong to), most of the volunteers smell smoke and know there's a fire that needs putting out. This is a good opportunity to reach out to people who are 'half awake' and help them the rest of the way. I'm a missionary for racism and I see fertile recruiting ground!"
Their web site shows photographs of “Minutemen” volunteers holding up Confederate flags. Right-wing radio talk show hosts have trumpeted their cause. CNN’s Lou Dobbs gave them considerable air time earlier this week on his program.
Christian Peacemaker Teams has also sent volunteers to the area to help monitor the “Minutemen.” “CPT provides organizational support to persons committed to faith-based nonviolent alternatives in situations where lethal conflict is an immediate reality or is supported by public policy,” reads their web site.
A right-wing movement calling themselves the Minutemen claims to be bringing hundreds of anti-immigrant activists to do "civilian border patrols." The Minutemen militia, while maintaining their activities will be nonviolent, are expected to be heavily armed and have ties to white supremacist groups. US officials and Border Patrol have publicly described the Minutemen's planned activities as unhelpful.
In April, CPT Arizona will participate in monitoring the activities of the Minuteman Project. "We're prepared to engage in active non-violence and provide emergency medical attention or intervention when vigilantes and migrants are roaming the desert together," explained CPTer Scott Kerr.
Last week residents of Douglas, AZ, awoke to find flyers distributed overnight throughout town by a white supremacist group called the National Alliance. Flyers compared current immigration trends to a non-white "invasion." This, combined with the presence of the anti-immigration Minutemen militia, have people noticeably anxious. Today rumors circulated that unknown people were knocking on doors inquiring about individuals' immigration status.
Throughout April CPT will also help facilitate nonviolence trainings for volunteers collaborating with legal-observer projects monitoring the Minutemen, an initiative set up by the Arizona Civil Liberties Union and the American Friends Service Committee.
Armed white supremacists marching along the American-Mexican border should be a concern for all Christians. We are called to welcome the stranger, to serve the least of these, and to seek justice. These are all biblical mandates that must be taken into account when considering immigration. Vigilantes arming themselves against “sub-nations” dishonor God. Support the Christian Peacemaker Teams with a donation to help their important work.
Related Link: United Church of Christ Refugees Ministry