NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


March 25, 2005

On Wednesday President Bush condemned a group of American citizens worried about the breaking of U.S. immigration law. He condemned the organizers of "Project Minuteman" as "vigilantes" even though they have broken no law and pledge not to do so, says the Washington Times.

The Pew Hispanic Center, suggests that 10.3 million undocumented aliens live in the United States, up 23 percent from the estimated 8.4 million who were here only four years ago. Most are Mexicans. Amid this chaos, states, local governments and citizen groups have responded:

  • In Arizona, whose illegal population has grown fastest, a citizen initiative called Proposition 200 passed with a solid majority in November to place curbs on the distribution of public benefits to illegals; many Hispanic citizens voted for it.
  • Now, Project Minuteman -- a border-monitoring effort slated to begin April 1 -- has swollen to more than a thousand volunteers with 30 private planes to monitor activity on the border 24 hours a day, reporting what they find to the Border Patrol.

But Bush's description of the Minutemen as vigilantes is a misreading of American history, says the Times. The vigilantes were a lynch mob. The Minutemen are an expanded version of the Neighborhood Watch programs popular in many American cities. It's sad to see an American president roll out a royal welcome to a foreign dignitary -- Mexican President Vicente Fox -- so openly contemptuous of U.S. law, while simultaneously condemning Americans who are trying to help duly constituted authorities enforce the law.

Source: Editorial, "Vigilantes," Washington Times, March 25, 2005.

For Pew Hispanic Center text:


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