May 23, 2005 – The US Border Patrol is reconsidering its position regarding the use of volunteer citizen patrols, such as last month's Minuteman Project, to fill what it considers a shortage of government-trained agents to do the job.
According to a story published on the Government Executive website, Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Robert Bonner told members of the House Government Reform Committee on May 12 that the agency needs thousands more new agents to monitor US borders, and that it may look to "more effectively harness the citizen volunteers."
Bonner referred to the Minutemen vigilantes as "well motivated." The volunteers, recruited from across the country by private citizens, patrolled a 23-mile section of the border between Arizona and Mexico to watch for undocumented immigrants in April. Organizers claimed they helped the Border Patrol to capture 335 individuals trying to enter the US.
The Border Patrol had previously discouraged the Minutemen, arguing that they would actually detract from border safety and needlessly put people at risk.
Immigrant and refuge rights groups have condemned the project, claiming that the patrols harassed and illegally detained migrants in violation of their rights.