What Border Residents Think of Migrants and Minutemen

Michael Marizco, Arizona Daily Star (Tucson), Apr. 28

DOUGLAS—To hear a Minuteman Project volunteer tell it, people are being robbed, raped and beaten by illegal entrants along this stretch of the Arizona-Mexico border.

Ask California activists, and they’ll tell you how Arizona has become the hate-state epicenter of the country.

In the latest immigration debate, perception has become more damaging to this small border town than reality.

And the people who live along this stretch of the border are getting a little tired of it all.

“There’s been people tied up and robbed; I talked to one guy who said he was robbed three different times,” says Minuteman volunteer Freddy Puckett, a button that says “Kiss Me, I’m Ugly” pinned to his camouflage boonie hat.

“People are scared to death out here,” the Cochise resident says.

There’s little evidence of it because people are afraid to talk, said his fellow Minuteman, Oracle resident Ron Johnson.

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Maryann Vell, 78, is a border activist from up near Willcox who travels down to volunteer in the project twice a week. Border problems are nothing new, she says, but now there are too many coming too fast.

“They’ll destroy us and destroy our world if it weren’t for patriotic people like us.”

She’s “very disappointed” more Arizonans haven’t joined the Minuteman Project.

Ben Leiendecker, 80, will tell you different.

“I’m my own Minuteman!” he said.

The Palominas rancher keeps a .45-caliber pistol under his bed and has planned out how he’ll react to a gunfight when the drug smugglers come for him.

He’s faced problems with illegal entrants his whole life, he said.

“They trash my pasture, they cut my fences. I’ll spend half a day straightening the fence where they bend it to cross through,” he said. “I’ll tell you something: My family has lived here since 1912 and I’ll fight to the death to stay here some more.”

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