I wonder what would happen if lights were installed in more locations. http://www.sierratimes.com/05/06/09/duncan.htm The Minuteman Project Rep. John J. Duncan, Jr. A survey conducted last year by the National Border Patrol Council found that the majority of U.S. Border Patrol agents and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers do not believe they have been given the proper tools, training, and support to effectively stop illegal immigrants from entering the country. Recently, citizens in Arizona have banded together to create their own citizen patrols. During the month of April, the Minuteman Project announced that it had placed 857 volunteers along the Arizona border. The organization claims its efforts resulted in the Border Patrol’s apprehension of 335 individuals illegally crossing the border. While the Minutemen have been portrayed by certain groups as a band of marauding vigilantes, founder Chris Simcox says the group has a no contact policy. The Minuteman code is: “Spot, report, and avoid any contact with people entering our Country illegally. No exceptions.” This is not the first time citizens have assembled to help enforce our immigration laws. In 1989, Muriel Watson, the widow of Border Patrol agent George Watson, created the Light Up the Border movement in San Diego, California. Groups of citizens would drive up to the border at night and point their headlights at the “no man’s land” area where robberies, rapes, and even murders often occurred. As a result, permanent lighting fixtures and triple fencing were installed along much of the 14-mile stretch of border south of San Diego. This helped cause the pattern of illegal immigration to shift away from that part of the border. The Minuteman Project also claims to be responsible for reducing the number of illegal border crossings in the areas it monitors by two-thirds. However, the CBP says those numbers are skewed. It claims that that the decline is due to increased border patrol agents in that area. The CBP also argues the Minutemen have done more harm than good by setting off motion detectors along the border. However, the Minuteman Project has brought much needed attention to a very pressing dilemma. I have never felt that we as a Nation have been tough enough on illegal immigration, nor do I feel that we have any idea of just how large the problem is. Based on many news reports I have read and heard and conversations I have had with Members of Congress from all around the Country, I honestly believe that there are probably three or four more times the number of illegal aliens already here in the United States than the federal government estimates. I greatly admire the work ethic of those who come here from other countries. However, apparently hundreds of millions from around the world would come here tomorrow if they could. Our health, education, and other services just could not handle that great of an influx almost overnight, and our Nation’s infrastructure would suffer greatly as well. We have to have some type of legal, orderly system of immigration. Also, when the number of immigrants was relatively low, they mainly seemed to take very unpleasant jobs that not one else wanted. Now, however, we are hearing more and more complaints about immigrants taking good construction jobs and buying very successful small businesses that take customers from American-owned businesses. Unfortunately, the CBP and the Border Patrol do not seem to have accurate statistics on illegal immigration and are not doing a good job in preventing this problem either. Recently, the Government Reform Committee, of which I am a member, held a hearing on the security of our borders. During this hearing, I asked CBP Commissioner Robert Bonner why so many CBP officers and Border Patrol agents are not doing their jobs. During my 17 years in Congress, I have found that any time federal agencies foul up, they usually blame it on two things. They always say they are under funded and/or have an outdated computer system. I remember when we found out that 15 of the 19 September 11 hijackers were here illegally. The then-Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) said the men had entered the Country illegally because the agency was under funded. Later, Congressman Elton Gallegly went on 60 Minutes saying the Congress had given the INS a 250% increase in funding over the previous eight years. That is more than a 30% increase each year. I spent 7½ years as a criminal court judge trying felony cases before I came to Congress, and whenever a defendant took off or skipped bond, the bonding companies went after them. That is done all over the Country. I do not think people realize how much law enforcement is done in this Country through private agencies, citizens, and businesses. In addition to that, I have found that we get the biggest bang for our buck from our lowest-paid law enforcement officials, the local officers. I think if we took half of the money we are spending now on border enforcement and turned it over to local law enforcement agencies along the border, we would probably apprehend more illegal aliens. I am not advocating such a policy because border security is a federal responsibility, but over the last ten years or so, we have given the Border Patrol, Customs, and all of the other agencies involved whopping increases in spending. This jump in funding is at least several times the rate of inflation over those years, yet these same agencies continually cry about being under funded. I think they hire too many chiefs and not enough Indians. I am proud of what the Minuteman Project has done. Not only have the Minutemen peacefully volunteered their services to help solve one of our Nation’s biggest problems, they have made more Americans aware of the need for stricter enforcement of illegal immigration.