ACLU, Minutemen trade accusations of misbehavior

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Grey Deacon, a spokesman of the Minuteman Project, told the "Worldnet RadioActive" show in an exclusive interview on April 14 that representatives from the American Civil Liberties Union are now criminally involved in helping illegal entrants cross the US border and avoid detection. He alleges that the ACLU activists are making noise and flashing lights to alert potential illegals to move on to a non-patrolled area of the border.

"The ACLU's position is that illegal aliens have a right to enter our border and stay in this country as long as they want," said Deacon. "That's what one of the leaders of the group told me personally."

These allegations exist despite the ACLU's officially stated position of not directly interfering with the Minutemen's activities. The ACLU's press release of March 30 affirmed that the participation of ACLU members would be strictly limited to being "neutral observers" and "recorders", not "participants", according to ACLU of Arizona Board President Stan Furman, a former Arizona State Senator.

"We recognize the right of a country to defend its borders," said Eleanor Eisenberg, Executive Director of the ACLU of Arizona, "but it must be done by the proper authorities and in a humane way," suggesting that the primary concern on the ACLU in interacting with the Minuteman Project was to prevent violence.

The ACLU also quotes prior allegations against the group that sponsors the Minutemen, writing that they are "alleged to have engaged in activities that go beyond First Amendment-protected activity and that is intended to intimidate, harass or otherwise interfere with the rights of others."

Bryan Barton T-shirt incident

The only widely known incident to result from Minuteman activities so far this month was the alleged temporary detention of a suspected illegal immigrant by Bryan Barton on April 6. Encountering a suspected illegal immigrant and believing him to be dehydrated from exposure, Barton gave the man cereal and milk, according to the Minuteman Project press release.

Later Barton shook his hand and asked him to pose for a picture with a T-shirt that read, "Bryan Barton caught an illegal alien and all I got was this lousy T-shirt". Barton then allegedly gave the man US$20 before a Border Patrol agent arrived to take the man into custody.

Although Barton was investigated by the Cochise County Sheriff's department and determined not to have broken the law, he was dismissed from further activities with the Minutemen because of violating the group's procedures, which specify no physical contact with suspected illegal immigrants.

"The volunteer's actions were admirable, justified and undeniably humane, but unfortunately they jeopardized our established procedures and overall purpose of passively monitoring the border," said Chris Simcox, co-founder of the Minuteman Project. "It's unfortunate, but we had to dismiss him from further participation."