The Minuteman Project will stop putting armed civilians along the Arizona-Mexico border to deter illegal immigration, the Los Angeles Times reports. The 750 volunteers will remain in the border area through April. Now the project will focus on protesting businesses that employ illegal immigrants, pushing for immigration reform, and organizing Minuteman branches nationwide. Leaders Jim Gilchrist and Chris Simcox will speak to the Congressional Immigration Reform Caucus in Washington next week. The group says it has been instrumental in the arrests of 283 illegal immigrants.
The patrols – which in addition to serving as a deterrent were intended to attract media attention and embarrass the Bush administration into doing more to police the nation’s borders – began April 1. The Border Patrol said that illegal immigrant traffic where the Minutemen were stationed had dropped 50 percent. Rep. Thomas G. Tancredo (R-Colo.), who backs strict border controls, asked the Minutemen to end their mission early. “I told them to pull the plug on it,” he said. “They have drawn the attention of the American government, they got the attention of the Mexican government, and they have proven they aren’t just a bunch of Bubbas.”