Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Minutemen: The Battle to Secure America's Borders

Authors: Jim Gilchrist & Jerome R. Corsi
Publisher: World Ahead Publishing, Inc.
ISBN: 0-9778984-1-5

The United States Census Bureau estimates that roughly 10-12 million illegal immigrants live in the USA today. Some researchers, believing it is necessary to account for the government’s inevitable under-sampling of the illegal immigrant population, believe that 20 million is a more realistic estimate. The vast majority of these immigrants are Hispanics who have entered the USA from Mexico.

Illegal immigration is an increasingly volatile issue in American politics. Many people want to decriminalize illegal immigration. Others want current immigration laws to be enforced more effectively, even if that necessitates the deportation of several million people. Gilchrist & Corsi belong to this latter group.

Jim Gilchrist conceived the Minuteman Project as a means to demonstrate that it is possible to guard the US-Mexican border effectively. In April 2006, approximately 1,000 Minuteman volunteers armed with lawn chairs and binoculars took up positions along the border between Arizona and Mexico. Their task was to observe and report their findings to the US Border Patrol. The Minutemen only interacted with immigrants to provide water and blankets as needed. During the period of the Minutemen’s surveillance, the flow of illegal immigrants from Mexico into Arizona diminished substantially.

The Minutemen seem to have demonstrated that an increased physical presence along the border will go a long way toward stemming the northward flow of humanity. If that is so, why hasn’t the US government trained and hired more border guards? Gilchrist & Corsi believe the answers to that question are rooted in myriad political considerations.

According to Gilchrist & Corsi, most radical left wing, and less-radical Democratic, politicians hope to incorporate the newly arrived Hispanics into their voter base. The authors also believe that left wing American labor unions hope to regain political clout and new members (along with their dues) from among the new arrivals. Gilchrist & Corsi go on to assert that the Catholic Church hopes to increase its membership and income base by incorporating the illegal immigrants, many of whom are Catholic, into their ranks. As far as President Bush’s apparent disinterest in addressing the issue of illegal immigration, the authors claim that he is driven by a vision of a transnational economic (and, ultimately, political) union of the USA, Canada and Mexico.

By now you’ve probably figured out that the authors have an unambiguous right wing bias. This being the case, they take pains to carefully distinguish President Bush from the remainder of the Republican Party. Moreover, they repeatedly chastise Democrats, radical leftists, labor unions and – to a lesser degree but no less critically – the Catholic Church. And they present the radical Reconquista movement as if it is the prevailing Mexican viewpoint. (Even if it is, how does it differ from the USA’s 19th century Manifest Destiny doctrine, except in not being American?)

On the other hand, Gilchrist & Corsi studiously avoid acknowledging that many, if not most, of the businesspeople who employ illegal immigrants are conservatives and Republicans. They agree that those who employ illegal immigrants contribute to the problem, but, unlike their approach to left-wingers, when they talk about employers (which they don’t do often), they never name names or identify political leanings. Recurrent and obvious biases such as these severely undercut their arguments.

When Gilchrist & Corsi avoid political mud-slinging, extremist suppositions and slippery slope arguments, they present cogent cases for their positions. They discuss – intelligently, in depth and with appropriate data – the economic, social, criminal, judicial, security and political consequences of illegal immigration. These arguments deserve careful scrutiny, but it’s difficult to give them their due when one has to rake through mounds of overtly biased verbiage to get to them. If the authors would have restrained themselves and avoided taking cheap political pot shots, the book would be much more persuasive.

I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in American political and social documentary. Regardless of your stance vis-รก-vis the authors’ political agenda, the material in this book provides stimulating food for thought. Perhaps you will be swayed by Gilchrist & Corsi’s arguments, or perhaps you won’t. One thing I guarantee is that you will be challenged to think about them.

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