Border control is group’s mission

Protesters will arrive in Crawford, Texas, on Saturday, setting up camp down the road from President Bush’s ranch.

They aren’t coming to object to his handling of the war in Iraq.

They are coming to denounce his position in the debate on immigration.

And these won’t be his political enemies, but his allies.

They’re calling it “A Day of Reckoning.” It will be a moment in the sun for those who want to deport illegal immigrants who are here now and to wall the borders to keep illegal crossers from coming in the future.

The voice and energy of the event will come from leaders in The Minuteman Project, the group whose members deploy along the borders with Canada and Mexico looking for those entering without going through Customs.

“We’re not anti-Bush, we just object to some of the decisions he’s made,” said Steve Eichler, executive director of the California-based organization.

Eichler said the president insulted hard-working Americans when he said illegal immigrants are needed to do jobs that they won’t.

And Eichler said there is vehement opposition to any guest-worker plan.

“People see this rally as a way to vent their anxiety with the sham amnesty that President Bush is discussing,” he said.

Crawford is a stop in an ambitious cross-country protest dubbed The Minuteman Project Caravan. Carloads of participants are expected for the trek that begins in Los Angeles on Wednesday and ends with a rally at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., on May 12.

This is a major undertaking for the year-old organization that describes itself as a “citizens’ vigilance operation.” Critics consider it a group of citizen vigilantes.

Washington has a chapter with volunteers routinely scattered along the Canadian border. Eichler boasts that up to 500 from this state will attend the caravan’s final rally, though he couldn’t name one when asked this week.

It’s the power of the message, not the size of the crowd, he said.

“It’s not the laws on the books that are at fault,” Eichler said. “It is the will of those on Capitol Hill to enforce the law. Some of the Congress members are not following the will of the people.

“We want to get them back in touch. We want them to know it is right to uphold the laws of the state,” he said.

The group wants Congress to enact legislation passed by the House of Representatives. It calls for building walls along the borders with Canada and Mexico and making it a felony to enter the country illegally. It has no guest-worker program.

Senators want a bill without the border walls and with a path to legal citizenship. They’ve not reached a compromise.

Eichler thinks the caravan may change a few senators’ minds.

“We are going to make a statement for the American people,” he said.

Reporter Jerry Cornfield’s column on politics runs every Sunday. He can be heard at 7 a.m. Monday on the morning show on KSER 90.7 FM. He can be reached at 360-352-8623 or

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