Wednesday, May 11, 2005

I Feel Safer Already

Read this profile of the leader of the Minuteman project that tried to secure the Arizona-Mexico border.

High drama suits Chris Simcox. You imagine that even when he’s home alone talking to his cat, he acts as if he’s addressing a sea of people. The hyperactive and bone-thin 43-year-old is the key organizer of and barker for the Minuteman Project, the citizen border patrol that in April sought with a single bold stroke to put a stop to illegal immigration along the Arizona-Mexico border. On the eighth day of the project, in the Arizona village of Palominas, Simcox is briefing 10 new recruits in a dirt lot near an oily little restaurant called the Trading Post. Several R.V. campers squat in the lot near a Port-O-San. Beyond is the empty scrub desert and two miles away the Mexican border.

“The government can’t afford to let this thing succeed,” Simcox tells the anxious men. “So stick to the SOP. That’s the most important thing.” Standard operating procedure is to call the U.S. Border Patrol at the sight of anyone trying to sneak across the border. Added to the tension is the news that Simcox has received death threats, supposedly from a Central American gang lord; he wears a bulletproof vest.

He tells the men they can carry pistols but they should not try to capture or detain migrants; there should be no contact at all between the Minutemen and their quarry. “It’s gonna get boring because we have to shut down this border,” he continues. “But don’t get suckered into an encounter. People coming across to work are victims. Just as you are. Your most effective weapon is your video camera. Someone approaches, your video camera is on!”

This is the new Chris Simcox, the politically correct, sanitized version. In January 2003, federal park rangers arrested Simcox after he wandered onto national parkland in search of illegal immigrants. In his possession was a loaded pistol, two walkie-talkies, a police scanner, a cellphone, a digital camera and what appeared to be a toy figurine of Wyatt Earp on a horse.


Simcox, with his maniacal and often shameless declarations about immigration, and his contradictory sympathy for migrants, whom he appears to hate for coming to his country, is already imagining an outsize place for himself in the history books. He sees himself as the lone man who will fix the system and close down the border.

As the article later points out, if we effectively seal the border and put an end to immigration from Mexico — legal or otherwise — large segments of our ecomony would be in distress. Like it or not, we have become accustomed to cheap labor to do the jobs we don’t want. Having whackjobs like Simcox and the rest of his merry band of three-toothed Elmer Fudds getting all worked up over this only points out this inconsistency and hypocrisy of our border policy, including the scandalous way we treat immigrants arriving here in Florida. (If you’re Cuban, free pass. If you’re Haitian, tough. That’s because the Haitians have yet to gain the clout to scare the daylights out of every politician south of Orlando.)

By the way, why didn’t the Minutemen camp out along the Minnesota-Manitoba border? Because it was April and it’s cold. If you’re going to sit around a campfire, smoke pot, and play GI Joe, you might as well keep warm. Yeah, these are tough guys.