Cape Coral residents Julius and Jeanette Morreal traveled to the Mexican border and learned what it was like to patrol with the Minuteman group.
My wife and I journeyed to Three Points, Ariz., intending to interview Stacey O'Connell, Arizona director of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps.
Instead, he assigned us to Border Watch on the 57,000-acre King-Anvil Ranch with a platoon of his Minutemen.
Before sundown, 50 Minutemen with their four-wheel drives had assembled at the ranch house waiting for their assignments.
Each was given handheld radios, high-powered searchlights, and night-vision binoculars.
They came from all walks of life: nurses, schoolteachers, truck drivers and retired military and police officers, among the many volunteers.
Most carried side arms conspicuously displayed on their hips. Rifles were not permitted on the ranch and side arms were to be unholstered only under imminent personal danger and in self-defense.
Mexican coyotes were known to shoulder rifles and we were instructed to immediately call for Border Patrol if the smugglers were spotted. Never were we to confront them.
Prior to being posted, we were assembled for a last-minute briefing by Arizona Minuteman Tom Collinson.
We were told not to have any bodily contact with the illegals, neither were we to directly speak or make any threatening gestures toward them.
Some will be exhausted from their 30-mile trek into the ranch, said Collinson, and seldom will they be a threat to us.
Hungry, exhausted and dehydrated, they will simply drop to the ground in a gesture of resignation and despair, he said.
Water could be only offered under established procedures. Bottles or glasses of water had to be placed at their feet and we were to back away without any physical contact.
At this point, the Border Patrol will respond and take them into custody. They will be fed and returned to Mexico, only to try again in a day or two.
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