Groups in Texas, Calif., Imitate Nativist Extremist Minuteman Project

The anti-immigration Minuteman Project set off an avalanche of imitators. Some of them are downright frightening.

Chris Simcox, posing here with fellow vigilantes in Tombstone, Ariz., helped set off a movement spawning more than 40 'citizens border patrol' groups since early May.

Closely affiliated with Jim Chase's California Border Watch, this group formed in early June as New Mexico Minutemen, then changed its name when Simcox announced the New Mexico Minuteman Corps as the "official" Minuteman patrol in New Mexico.

New Mexico Border Watch director "Chief Dr. Sir" Clifford Alford explains the rift between his group and Simcox, echoing the sentiments of others in the Minuteman movement who have been critical of Simcox and his arrogance.

"Chris gets a bit high handed from time to time, as though groups should be 'sanctioned' by him," said Alford, who claims to be a Cherokee shaman, Wiccan sorcerer, Reiki master and newly ordained Templar knight, among other dubious titles. "Well, [Simcox] is not almighty God, and he is also not the Grand Prior of the Knights Templar, so pardon me if I don't give a flip."

A self-proclaimed (and highly paranoid) expert on the occult, Alford has conducted law enforcement training seminars on Satanism and "Ninja death cults" he said were being secretly trained to spearhead a mass slaughter across the globe. In a training pamphlet he authored, Alford advises police officers that even innocent-looking children and old people under the influence of satanic forces will attack without warning. "When you approach an occult crime suspect," he tells them, "always have your holster strap or flap undone and your hand around the grip with your thumb over the hammer ready to draw and fire."

In late June, the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico indefinitely suspended its Las Cruces chapter when it was revealed that Alford had joined the chapter and been appointed to its board of directors. Alford later suggested on national television that he had deliberately infiltrated the ACLU.

The ACLU was embarrassed, to say the least. "We will not tolerate racism and vigilantism in the leadership structure of our organization," said Ruidoso, N.M., attorney Gary Mitchell, president of the ACLU board of directors.

New Mexico Border Watch began conducting weekend operations near Columbus, N.M., in August.

In early June, Chris Simcox appointed Goliad County, Texas, petroleum engineer Bill Parmley to be president of the Texas Minuteman Corps. Two months later, Parmley resigned, citing widespread racism among the group's volunteers, who Parmley said were more anti-Hispanic than anti-illegal immigration. Parmley alleged that many of the volunteers hatched a plot to force all the Hispanic elected officials in Goliad County from office and replace them exclusively with Caucasians.

"I don't know of any other word to describe it than racism," Parmley later told the Fort Worth Weekly. "They had a secret agenda before the organization ever got started. They rolled it into the Minutemen."

One of the Hispanic officials the Minutemen were out to get, Goliad County Sheriff DeLaGarza, said that after he met with the citizen border patrol members and fielded their eager questions about the legal use of deadly force, he did his best to dampen their trigger happiness with his threat to "hammer their ass."

The left-wing Brown Berets also recently sent the Texas Minutemen Corps a warning of their own. "Think twice before you come here," Brown Berets leader Pablo Delgado said at a July 28 news conference. Delgado said members of the militant Chicano organization are forming their own civilian border patrols, and will be active on the Texas border in October when Texas Minutemen Corps is scheduled to begin operations at the same time as Simcox-sanctioned outfits in Arizona and New Mexico.

"We will be armed," Delgado said, "and we will use whatever force is necessary to defend the lives of immigrants."

Running Against Immigrants
The first to use Minutemen tactics were Klansmen.

In 1977, Ku Klux Klan leaders David Duke and Tom Metzger formed Klan Border Watch, a KKK vigilante border patrol in southern California. Like this April's Minuteman Project in Arizona, Klan Border Watch was primarily a media stunt designed to fan the flames of anti-immigration sentiment in America and to generate publicity for its ambitious leaders. Three years later, Metzger ran for Congress in California on the promise that he would militarize the border. Running openly as a Klansman, Metzger, who was then Duke's California state leader, would garner 33,000 votes, although he lost the election.

Taking a page from Metzger's playbook, three Minuteman group founders are running for state office, and Jim Gilchrist has declared himself a Constitution Party candidate for the special congressional election in his Orange County, Calif., district to fill the seat vacated when President Bush appointed former Congressman Chris Cox to head the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Simcox, meanwhile, has hired a public relations specialist and is hinting at a congressional campaign of his own. Lauded as a hero at anti-immigration rallies across the country, Simcox also benefited from glowing coverage provided to millions of Fox News Channel viewers in a three-night special report from the border hosted by conservative pundit Sean Hannity that screened like a recruitment infomercial for the Minuteman movement.

Despite being decried by President Bush, border vigilantism has already been endorsed by sitting Republican congressmen, including Tom Tancredo of Colorado, and by John Culberson of Texas, who on July 28 introduced legislation that would allocate $6.8 million in federal funds to established armed citizen militia in borders states. The militias' members would be empowered to arrest illegal immigrants using "any means and force authorized by state law."

Forty-seven lawmakers have already agreed to co-sponsor the "Border Protection Corps Act."

But the leaders of the Minuteman movement aren't waiting for federal authorization. In late June, addressing a crowd of 300 new Minuteman recruits in Goliad, Texas, Simcox delivered this ultimatum: "If we don't see the National Guard and the U.S. military on the border by October, we're going to patrol the border with 20,000 citizens. That will be a warning. In six months, if we don't see the military on the border, you might be faced with an army of 100,000 citizens."