Sitting next to a chart outlining the new goals of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps is its national development director, Greg Thompson. The five goals include increasing membership to every major city in America, disseminating information more efficiently, changing the laws, enforcing the laws that exist, and continuing border projects already in place.
At the Hot Springs, Arkansas Minuteman organizational meeting held at the end of August the sheriff had to be called out to quell dissension between organizers and supporters of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). A different scenario took place in Joplin.
A peaceful climate existed for the curious who filled the Legion Room of Memorial Hall last Sunday to get information about the local Minuteman group.
Was it a roomful of men wearing cami fingering their NRA cards? No. Those who chose to attend appeared to be your average Joes concerned over where their tax dollars were being spent, how open borders would be affecting the nation's security, and the effect of the huge amount of dollars in repatriations sent back to Mexico.
Recognized in the audience was Dr. Allen H. Merriam, who this semester is teaching an advanced course in social and political communication at Missouri Southern State University. He said he was there because stemming the flow of illegal immigration was "an important issue." He also agreed that border security was of concern.
This member of the audience is wearing a tee shirt commemorating the Paul Revere Ride that took place from California to Washington. Its purpose, he said, was to educate people about the illegal immigration problem. Legislators debating H.R. 6061, the Secure Fence Act of 2006, according to information posted at NumbersUSA have concluded that the public is demanding an immediate enforcement-first approach to immigration reform.
Repeatedly declaring that the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps (MCDC) was not a racist hate organization, Greg Thompson, the organization's national development director, outlined their expanded mission as "one of reclaiming America for Americans" and in order to achieve that goal to create a system that can be replicated across America.
After everyone was asked to pledge allegiance to the flag, Thompson said, "That means a lot to me--one nation under God. People try to tear this country apart. I'm not happy about it." He was quick to refer to several occurrences across the U.S. where the American flag was taken down and replaced by the Mexican flag or in at least one incidence in California where the American flag was hung upside down under the Mexican flag. The motivation of the perpetrators, he said, wasn't about immigration rights but about "taking over our country."
One of the original Minutemen in 2005 who attempted to secure the border at Grand Valley, TX, Thompson called his current job, getting to travel all over the country, his best job. "I get to be a patriot," he said.
In discussing the porousness of the borders, Thompson warned that "700 miles of fences for five thousand miles of border is the government trying to make us believe they're doing something." He claimed that the general public is not privy to the numbers of Korans or prayer rugs found at the border. Allegedly Spanish-speaking people are crossing, but what does it take to learn a little Spanish?, he asked. He warned that at Brownsville "they're not coming to pick peaches. They're coming to kill you." And if the thought of Al Qaeda crossing our borders unrestrictedly wasn't a motivating factor for members of the audience to join his organization, then Thompson hoped that they would consider how many billion third world people this country can support with third world problems that they might bring with them.
While Thompson's off the cuff remarks may have seemed overly dramatic to some, they were intended, as he put it, "to get this country riled up." He wants people to fight even "one little bitty battle at a time".
And what are those battles for an organization that Thompson would like to see built "into a real big army"? The answers would bring MCDC intervention into every community in the nation. Locally, he would like to see members getting the city of Joplin, as an example, to go after those "30 people living in one house," to get law enforcement to go after illegal drivers, and to get individual members to inform businesses likely to to have hired illegals that they need to require proof of U.S. citizenship.
To prove that the MCDC was a straight up organization, Thompson asked for $50 from each new member or the administrative cost for a background check. Those with a current permit to carry a weapon or who have had a recent background check would be exempt from the fee.
At first Christy Grimmett, who was greeting the newcomers, was the only female member in the room, but before the meeting had gotten started a few more had walked in. Grimmett, who said she was a code enforcement officer believes that "women feel uncomfortable being in a roomful of men." But, she added, that they are "right up there with men--on the borders, in the workplaces, everywhere".
Thompson agreed that the organization needed women to join. "You work harder than the rest of us," he told the four listening to him.
Local chapter leader speaks
Although Erik Van Dusen, pictured at left, the leader of the Joplin chapter, allowed Thompson control of the meeting, he was just as vehement a supporter of MCDC expanding its goals. Married for ten years with three children, Van Dusen describes himself as a former hell raiser but now just an average American wage earner, but, like others in the same situation, "needing a lot to try to make a living without being sucked dry". He resents whom he describes as those illegals who tell Americans they have rights and threaten harm to those who disagree. The fence is a good idea, he said, but cutting off their benefits is a better one.
Van Dusen believes that the government looks the other way regarding cheap labor issues. He see the strength of big business coupled with the American public not wanting to stand up for their rights as the biggest obstacles to combating the illegal immigration problem.
Therefore, anyone interested should contact Van Dusen at (417) 358-7965 or send him an email here. He said the group would have monthly meetings after 10 or 12 people signed up for membership.
The Hispanic side
Adolfo Castillo, founder and president of the Tri-State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, must have had a mole at the meeting. When questioned by telephone, he knew all about MCDC's expanded goals. While he didn't fault the Minuteman group in securing the borders because of the times, he disagreed with their new community intervention tactics suggesting they were illegal. And he was worried over the establishment of copycat groups.
In commenting about the flag defacers and other anti-American activists, Castillo called their behavior "so extreme that we Hispanic groups don't acknowledge them." What they are advocating--the return of territory to Mexico--is never going to happen, he said. He compared their actions to environmental groups burning SUVs and said that it was irrational for the media to be giving them the spotlight.
"If you only could earn $3.00 a week in Mexico or $5.50 an hour in the U.S., what would you choose?," Castillo postured. NAFTA (North American Fair Trade Agreement) was supposed to create jobs in both countries. That was the way it was supposed to work, Castillo said, but once the Mexican peso was devalued, Mexican business found it more profitable to operate in China. That and a president with no majority to achieve any reforms destroyed the Mexican middle class, he said.
Castillo also warned that "communism was going to flourish south of the border if the free-flow of dollars that keeps the standard of living up is stopped. Although he said that fixing the dollar in Mexico was crucial for keeping workers in that country, he had no suggestion for achieving that goal.
In the meantime, Castillo believes that immigration law should be brought up to date. He said that law-abiding Hispanics who have worked and paid taxes for 10-15 years, who have children born and raised in the U.S. who don't even know their parents are illegals, have earned the right to citizenship.
Castillo wondered who is backing these Minutemen. Where do they get the money to run their organization?
According to a recent post by Bill Berkowitz of Media Transparency, a tracker of conservative philanthropy, several former Minuteman comrades have gone public with charges that Chris Simcox, the head of the MCDC, has not been accountable for the money the organization had raised. In addition -- and apparently unbeknownst to many of its members -- the organization has taken to calling itself "a project" of the Declaration Alliance, a group controlled by Black conservative Alan Keyes.