As American controversy over immigration reaches a climax, we at UCSB must ask ourselves this important question – would Jared Goldschen or Romy Lea Frazier make a better A.S. President?
That’s my first and last comment about campus elections. I respect the process and I’m going to vote, but, deep down inside, I don’t really care. Instead, I’d like to talk about a much more far-reaching issue, relating to militias, minutemen and a muddle-headed mentality.
An estimated 200,000 people currently call themselves Minutemen. The Minuteman Project, as per www.minutemanproject.com, deems itself “a citizens’ Vigilance Operation monitoring immigration, business, and government.” Since 2004, groups of minutemen have patrolled sections of the Mexican-American border for illegal immigrants, often bearing arms. This is not a federally mandated group. This is not the Border Patrol. This is an independently run organization, funded by U.S. citizens alone.
Are they legally allowed to do this? Technically, yes. Are their tactics effective? That depends on your perspective. Arnold Schwarzenegger championed their work, encouraging them to start a state chapter in California. Others were less enthusiastic. President Bush called them “vigilantes,” saying, “I’m for enforcing the law in a rational way.” Border Patrol officials reported that minutemen often got in the way, tripping over motion detectors and wearing camouflage fatigues. One minuteman was even arrested, under accusations that he pistol-whipped an immigrant.
In spite of their wacky antics, their numbers are growing. Recent debate over Bush’s proposed guest-worker program has flooded minutemen offices with enlistment requests. Can you call it enlistment? I’m not sure. This is one method for solving an extremely complicated national issue. And it’s a big issue for the Border Patrol to handle; drug trafficking, armed violence and mistreatment by “coyote” smugglers all add to the large heaping of hellfire.
But I’m not sure if a group of camouflaged, gun-toting nut jobs would solve the problem either. If we want to stop illegal immigrants from crossing the border, we have to solve the problems of illegal immigrants. They have to support their families. They need jobs, as my colleague Andrea Angus pointed out a week ago, because we stole them all through export subsidies. They often live in slums. It’s not only rational for immigrants to come to America – it’s often a necessity of life.
When I see groups like the minutemen come out of the woodwork, I’m not surprised. After the 2004 election, I have low expectations. But I’m especially shocked by the ignorance and lack of insight. Do we really think that a ramshackle militia will stop immigrants from “stealing” our jobs? Immigrants aren’t really “stealing” our jobs – they’re just easy to exploit economically, due to their low social position and the need for cheap labor. I respect the minutemen for their initiative, but if they really want to make a difference, maybe they should dig a little deeper into their ideological trench.
Or, they could just strap on army helmets and stomp off into the desert. That would be the easy way out.
Daily Nexus columnist Matt Cappiello may deny it, but his stamina in bed won him a free 12-month membership to the minuteman club.