Frisco man among Minutemen | VailDaily.com
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Frisco man among Minutemen

Julie Sutor
Special to the DailyMike McCraken of Frisco, far right, sits with his Minuteman Project teammates, Jack Montrose and Zack Stewart, in April, looking out across the U.S.-Mexican border near Naco, Ariz.
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FRISCO – Mike McCraken is an outspoken 63-year-old Frisco resident who describes himself unapologetically as “a hot-head.”He is not, he says, a vigilante or a racist. Nor is he “politically correct.”He is a “staunch environmentalist and a free-market capitalist” who can’t get enough of TV news programs. His opinions, though somewhat chimeric, run deep on the issues of the day, whether at the municipal, national or global level.But McCraken’s local advocacy efforts were put on hold for about a month this spring when he pointed his wheels southwest and journeyed to a desolate, 23-mile stretch of Arizona desert to join the Minuteman Project – an independent civilian patrol of the U.S.-Mexican border.”I have strong feelings on the whole immigration issue, so I thought, ‘Well, hell, 30 days in Arizona in April wouldn’t be all that bad,” McCraken said. “I have nothing against immigration, and I’m somewhat sympathetic about the need for unskilled workers here in the U.S., but having unsecured borders is unsustainable, illegal and unfair.”

McCraken counted himself among the 150 to 1,000 (accounts vary widely) American citizens who traveled to sit on the U.S. side of the border in April, in the unrelenting sun and wind, watching for illegal crossings from Mexico and reporting them to U.S. Border Patrol officials.”The primary mission was to focus national attention to the problem. The second was to assist the Border Patrol, to be its eyes and ears, at least from Nogales to Naco,” McCraken said.Just an ice axMcCraken was on a four-man team whose other members, all of whom McCraken met upon arrival, hailed from California, Mississippi and Nevada. They camped each night, along with other Minutemen, 2.5 miles from the border at the long-closed Miracle Valley Bible College, which McCraken described as “a total and absolute pit.”

For 19 days straight, the team members arose at 4:45 a.m. and made the 45-minute drive to Naco or surrounding canyon areas, stopping along the way at a gas station for coffee and donuts.The four men sat in camping chairs and peered across the desert landscape through binoculars, occasionally getting up to walk around or fix lunch. McCraken’s team members had firearms, but he was armed only with his ice ax, which he also carries on hikes in Summit County.They all had cell phones and radios with which to report illegal crossings to Minuteman headquarters and the Border Patrol, as they had strict instructions to refrain from directly confronting immigrants.McCraken regularly saw people on Mexican soil, hiding in the scrub and behind railroad trestles, looking for safe opportunities to cross. The men’s shift concluded at 2 p.m. each day, when another team arrived to take over.In all, reports from McCraken’s team led to the apprehension of 16 illegal immigrants by the Border Patrol.

“This was a highly successful endeavor. I’m proud that I went. I stay in touch with my teammates, and I’ll probably do it again,” McCraken said.’Nothing against immigrants’McCraken is aware that many have criticized the Minuteman Project as a xenophobic, vigilante stunt, he said. And certainly, there is no shortage of strong, inflammatory language about immigrants on the official Minuteman Web site, warning that America may someday be “devoured and plundered by the menace of tens of millions of invading illegal aliens.”

“Future generations will inherit a tangle of rancorous, unassimilated, squabbling cultures with no common bond to hold them together, and a certain guarantee of the death of this nation as a harmonious ‘melting pot,'” the Web site says. But McCraken’s own words about his reasons for participating in the project are less extreme.”We’ve got to enforce our laws. We were doing the job President Bush and Congress refuse to do. I have nothing against immigrants or immigration – just do it legally, according to some fair policy,” he said.He also believes that the Mexican government should do a better job using its natural resources and willing labor force to make the country more economically stable and that the U.S. government should somehow “neutralize the incentive” for businesses to employ illegal immigrants.In the meantime, McCraken feels the U.S. leaves itself open to economic problems and national security threats by leaving its borders as penetrable as they are, he said. “Homeland security is a joke with all this porosity,” he said.


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