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Live Free or Die

Arizona Minutemen Fight for Freedom

I think it’s safe to say I’m sick of the pope.

Because I am a non-denominational Protestant, my interest in the papacy is slim to none (I do find the alleged assassination of Pope John Paul I to be fascinating, however). I did not follow his policies, I disagree with many of his beliefs and I certainly do not need around-the-clock coverage on every major news outlet telling me what I already know — namely, that John Paul II is dead. I’m sure there are many others who feel the same way.

Like the frenzy surrounding Terry Schiavo, the death of one person — no matter their importance on the world’s stage — should never deserve such nauseating media coverage. Aside from the fact that grief is a private affair, there are simply more pressing concerns in the United States in America than the Vatican’s burial plans. Things like the economy, rising medical costs and declining educational standards. Anytime the spotlight shines on something trivial, awareness is robbed from real issues. Don’t think that’s an accident, either — America’s ignorance is definitely by design.

The most important item of news taking place this past weekend had nothing to do with a dead pontiff, it involved a number of men and women patrolling the porous Mexican-American border for illegal immigrants. These self-appointed “Minutemen” are taking up a task the federal government seems loathe to do, and for that they deserve high praise.

I’ve been critical of the border situation for a long time. Living in California, I’ve watched our public education system become glutted with the children of illegal immigrants. Public services many citizens would be lucky to have are doled out gratis to people who actively fight the system of emigrating to the United States legally — there have even been proposals to give illegals free college tuition and drivers’ licenses. It’s beyond maddening to see tax dollars squirreled away into the hands of those who do not belong here.

So I read with interest about the Minuteman project, an all-volunteer force established in 2005 in Arizona as a means of monitoring the 23-mile stretch of land often thought the most lax in terms of border security. Upon witnessing an illegal crossing, this loose surveillance network calls Border Patrol into action — and there have already there have been over 150 apprehensions.

Sounds fairly straightforward, right? Yep — except the Minutemen aren’t just receiving opposition from Mexico, a country so desperate to unload their people on the U.S. they’ve developed a comic providing tips on how to scheme oneself across the border (don’t wear wool when swimming across a river, it absorbs too much water!), they’re also being decried by George W. Bush as “vigilantes.”

“I am against vigilantes in the United States of America,” the president said at a joint press conference alongside Mexican President Vincente Fox and Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin. “I am for enforcing the law in a rational way.” His common-sense approach to the situation? Legislation granting “guest-worker” status to millions of illegal aliens already in the United States.

Let me see if I understand this correctly: Bush sidesteps the issue entirely and considers his non-compromise “reasonable,” but American citizens who are so concerned with the obvious lack of care put into border patrol by their own government that they band together at no pay to do it themselves are vigilantes? Unreal.

I’m all for enforcing the law in a “rational way.” Unfortunately, Bush’s steadfast refusal to fund the Border Patrol and his willingness to welcome illegal immigrants (and grant them amnesty, no less) means the rational way involves peaceful people acting peaceably to guard what they feel is an important asset — American sovereignty.

There are few things more disturbing than watching an American president sells out his own citizens so big corporations and trade agreements can benefit. Accepting millions of illegal immigrants a year so that multinationals can profit from the cheap labor does a disservice to every citizen of this country. Calling people who resent this change of lifestyle a group of vigilantes? Okay, there are few things more disturbing than that.

The Minutemen are donating time, vehicles and energy towards protecting the fragile American Dream from an influx of Mexicans. They have been told that Central American gangs will fire on them even though they’ve promised weapons will not be fired. Their actions have also spurred a laughable lawsuit from Mexico.

All these men and women are doing is exercising their constitutionally protected freedom of assembly. They aren’t taking border-crossers into custody themselves, they’re providing a resource to an overwhelmed and understaffed federal agency that quite frankly can use all the help it can get.

And their return? Just more proof that the American government no longer puts us first. This is just another instance of the federal cogs working against the interests of their constituents. The people, now more than ever, have come to rely on grassroots movements to make things work.

What does that say about how we let ourselves be governed? A great deal, unfortunately.