Many consider the Minutemen, the volunteers who patrol America's borders, to be a passel of drunken, racist cowboys. According to Minuteman Steve Giraud, that conception is completely wrong.
Giraud, a member of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps (MCDC), told members of the Upper Napa Valley Republican Women Federated Monday that his organization is dedicated to promoting border security by observing and reporting illegal activity on the border, and never confronting or pursuing those responsible.
"We are not to actively seek out and pursue illegal activity," Giraud said. "If it presents itself to us, we are to report it to the local law enforcement agency."
He said that each new member of the MCDC is screened for criminal behavior or racist tendencies.
While members of the MCDC carry a gun for self-defense, they are prohibited from carrying a round in the chamber, and no one on either side of the border has been injured during an MCDC patrol, Giraud said.
On the rare occasions when the MCDC makes contact with illegal immigrants, it is to provide water and blankets, particularly when children are suffering from the harsh desert conditions.
"Why aren't we leaving this up to the experts? Well, where are they?" said Giraud, who portrayed the Border Patrol as a woefully understaffed agency whose members welcome the Minutemen's help.
"I like to think that when our government finally decides to place government troops on the border and secures it with sound fencing, I'll be able to go home and spend time with my family," he said.
Giraud said his concerns about the 15,000 illegal immigrants who cross the border daily revolve around national security, economics, safety and sovereignty.
"These guys are heavily armed out there," said Giraud. "This isn't just about families coming across looking for a better way of life. It is about a massive drug-smuggling operation."
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