Coming soon to your SLO town: The Minutemen
February 12, 2008
By DANIEL BLACKBURN
Paula James feels both a sense of excitement and apprehension about introducing into the San Luis Obispo County culture the newly-formed Central Coast Minuteman Civil Defense Corps.
Excitement, she says, because there is “a lot to do” in the area of illegal immigration. Apprehension, because hers is a darkly unpopular cause in some local quarters. That unpopularity is something she acknowledges, but still doesn’t fully understand: “All we are asking is that federal law be followed,” she said Tuesday.
The group seeks to enforce a specific section of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act passed by Congress in 1996. Under Section 287g of the Act, methods are outlined for local governments to get involved in immigration enforcement.
The Minuteman organization has been very active along the California, Arizona and Texas borders with Mexico, but until now has had no presence in SLO County.
James – president of the Central Coast chapter “by default” – said there are members throughout SLO County, from Paso Robles to Nipomo.
“Many are very shy about coming forward,” said James about her members. “No one is quite certain what the reaction is going to be. So many people believe they are the only ones who think the way they do about this immigration problem. We are trying to get across that a lot of people feel the same way. It’s our First Amendment right to tell the government it’s time to stop abusing the taxpayer.”
Law enforcement should be encouraged to cooperate, she said. “This has been a problem in California for 15 years. We are being bankrupted. Illegal immigrants have even gained special privileges. So now our plan is to focus on specific things that can happen in a community… if people are so motivated.”
The chapter plans a meeting February 20 at 7 p.m. in the Santa Maria Inn. A Border Patrol Auxiliary member and a member of the Minutemen will be featured speakers. Call 805-720-4316, or e-mail James at firstname.lastname@example.org.