Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Borders and the ACLU 

Loyal reader jw noticed an article in the Las Cruces Sun-News that someone who is head of the ACLU chapter in that town is also a leader in the Minuteman Project. The Las Cruces chapter was suspended by its state board.
�The suspension of the chapter was a technical move to make certain that the Minuteman claiming to be an ACLU chapter board member no longer had authority to act or speak on behalf of the ACLU,� said Gary Mitchell, president of the New Mexico ACLU board of directors. �We will not tolerate racism and vigilantism in the leadership structure of our organization. They (the Minuteman Project) are repugnant to the principles of civil liberties and the mission of the ACLU.�

Alford recently announced that he would lead a group termed the New Mexico Minutemen in patrolling the U.S.-Mexico border between Santa Teresa and Columbus. A second group, aligned with the Minuteman Project and led by a Farmington man, then said it also would begin patrols in New Mexico. The two leaders have since met and reportedly plan to work together.

Peter Simonson, executive director of the New Mexico ACLU, said the suspension was needed because of Alford�s affiliation with the Minuteman Project and the ACLU.

�We denounce both Minutemen efforts and we denounce Clifford Alford,� Simonson said. �The ACLU believes that both of the Minutemen projects are absolutely antithetical to the principles of civil liberties.�
ACLU is a private organization and entitled to act according to its preferences. There's nothing that says, or should say, that this suspension cannot be done. Nevertheless, the state chapter's actions assume that Mr. Alford is going to act beyond his legitimate position of expressing his Frist Amendment right to assemble a group that wishes to enforce immigration laws. Isn't Alford protected by the First Amendment too?

And more telling is that Alford is part of a split group of Minutemen who seem to have peaceful intentions.
Alford said Saturday he was scouting the border, trying to figure out where he would place his 40 New Mexico Minutemen volunteers. Their members will distinguish themselves by offering food, water and medical aid to illegal immigrants but at the same time report them to the U.S. Border Patrol, Alford said.

"If someone breaks down on the border, we can help them,'' he said. "We're not wearing uniforms, and we don't carry assault weapons.''

Alford, who lives in Organ, said he met Thursday with state police and Border Patrol officials to tell them that his group wants to help secure the border while showing compassion.
It seems the ACLU of New Mexico may be overreaching.