Mar. 30, 2005 – An American anti-immigrant group calling itself the Civil Homeland Defense (CHD) is claiming that up to 1,000 recruits will begin a month-long patrol of a 40-mile stretch along the US side of the Arizona-Mexico border, beginning April 1. According to the groupâ€™s website, volunteers with the action known as the "Minuteman Project" will watch the border areas and report undocumented immigrants to American border authorities.
While the group stresses that participants will follow all laws and remain nonviolent, CHD spokesperson James Gilchrist, told the Washington Times that his group is prepared for attacks from members of a "violent Central American gang" which Gilchrist claims are being sent to teach the "minutemen" volunteers a lesson. "We're not worried because half of our recruits are retired, trained combat soldiers," Gilchrist told the Times. "And those guys are just a bunch of punks."
In response to the CHD gathering, Mexican President Vicente Fox has condemned the self-described border patrol as "immigrant hunters," and said that his government has sent a diplomatic note to the US expressing concern.
Meanwhile, in reaction to what they termed "increased anti-immigrant sentiment and presence in border communities" and efforts to bring "hundreds of outsiders, who know nothing about the region, into Arizona border communities," several immigrant rights groups are planning events for April as well. In a statement announcing the events, which will include vigils and "volley ball over the border" organizers called the Minuteman Project a "disturbing development."
Additionally, the Arizona Daily Star reported earlier this week that volunteer American legal observers were poised to monitor the anti-immigrant group during its month-long gathering on Arizonaâ€™s border with Mexico.