LOU DOBBS TONIGHT - CNN
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Aired January 25, 2005 - 18:00 ET
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Hundreds of American citizens are hoping to succeed where the federal government has failed. They're taking action to secure or borders themselves. Citizens from all over the country are going to Arizona to patrol the busiest stretch of border in the nation. Millions of illegal aliens cross that border every year.
Casey Wian reports from Tombstone, Arizona.
CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Two hours before dawn in Arizona, the office of the Tombstone Tumbleweed newspaper opens. Publisher Chris Simcox prepares to lead a group of civilian volunteers patrolling for illegal aliens.
SIMCOX: I've spent time here on the border and heard the stories of the people that live along the border, how they feel abandoned by the president and Congress.
WIAN: So he formed a group, Civil Homeland Defense. SIMCOX: It's a direct challenge. President Bush, do your job. The people want you to spend our tax dollars securing that border. We don't need immigration reform. What we need is a secure border.
WIAN: Using thermal imaging cameras, they search the desert ravines and underbrush, popular resting spots for illegal aliens through the nation's busiest smuggling corridor.
SIMCOX: I've trained just about 400 people in the last two years.
WIAN: Some are former law-enforcement officers, and some are armed, which is legal in Arizona.
SIMCOX: We've been shot at, we've had knives pulled on us, we've had people tell us that if we didn't have that holstered firearm on our side that they'd kill us.
WIAN: When they encounter illegal aliens, they don't try to arrest or apprehend. They call the Border Patrol. Simcox says his volunteers have turned in 6,000 suspects from 26 different countries. Now they're recruiting new members willing to spend a month patrolling the border.
(on camera): The Minuteman Project plans to have more than 1,200 protesters here at the border crossing at Naco, Arizona, on April 1. Then, for the rest of the month, several hundred volunteers will spread out throughout the area and try to stop illegal border crossings.
(voice-over): Volunteers lie Al Garza.
AL GARZA, MINUTEMAN PROJECT VOLUNTEER: I'm Hispanic, but not all Hispanics have the same concepts. We are Americans. We'll defend it 100 percent.
WIAN: The local sheriff says there's huge potential for confrontations between armed citizens, landowners and smugglers. He's warned the Minuteman Project to obey the law.
SHERIFF LARRY DEVER, TOMBSTONE, ARIZONA: Clearly, you know, in my opinion, the cause is just. You know, securing or borders is an absolute necessity.
WIAN: The Minuteman Project says volunteers are being screened and trained to avoid violence.
JIM GILCHRIST, MINUTEMAN PROJECT ORGANIZER: We will not have a conflict with illegal immigrants. We will not confront them. We will not engage in any combative actions whatsoever.
SIMCOX: It's not about who you are and where you come from or what language you speak or what color your skin is. It's about you breaking into our country.
WIAN: Casey Wian, CNN, Tombstone, Arizona. (END VIDEOTAPE)
PILGRIM: We'd like to hear from you on this critical issue, and our poll question tonight is: Do you believe civilian volunteers should patrol our border with Mexico to keep illegal aliens out of this country? Yes or no. Cast your vote at loudobbs.com, and we'll bring you the results later in the show.
Still to come, illegal aliens landing. How immigration officials are fighting the latest trend in illegal border crossings. We'll have that next.