Minuteman Executive Director Speaks in Indio

Steve Moore and Olga Rojas-Price, Press-Enterprise (Riverside, California), November 30, 2007

Major progress could be made over the next couple of years in stopping illegal immigration, according to a top leader of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps.

On Friday, Al Garza, the group’s national executive director, told a Republican lunch gathering it will take strict enforcement of immigration laws, building more border fencing, hiring additional U.S. Border Patrol agents and cutting off government benefits for illegal immigrants, except in emergencies.

Garza, second in command of the Minuteman group, said there’s no need for new immigration legislation.

In an interview after his speech, Garza said, “Americans did not know what was going on. Now, they understand our laws are being broken.

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Rosalio Plata, president of Michoacanos’ Club Juan Colorado, said the country needs new immigration legislation with an amnesty or legalization process for people who have lived in the United States for 10 or 20 years. He said it would be “cruel” to send them back to Mexico.

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He said undocumented workers do jobs for minimum wage—washing dishes, picking crops, gardening and janitorial work—that Americans won’t.

Plata said instead of building a border fence, it would be better to help Mexico improve its economy with more trade and create additional jobs there.

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During his remarks before the Coachella Valley-Heritage Palms Congress of Republicans, Garza said, “The federal government isn’t doing the job, so the Minutemen are.

“There’s no room for debate, you’re either here legally or not. . . . No ifs, ands and buts.”

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“We believe in the rule of law,” he said. “What’s racist about that?”

Garza, who has Mexican ancestry, occasionally used a few lines of Spanish while addressing the group of 90 people. Members of the Republican group emphasized they aren’t necessarily endorsing Minuteman activities but wanted to present an informational community program.

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