Frisco Minuteman border-bound again |

Frisco Minuteman border-bound again

Summit Daily/Brad Odekirk

FRISCO – Be careful when you raise the subject of illegal immigration with 63-year-old Frisco resident Mike McCraken. He’s bound to go off.”This is an invasion, is what it is. There’s no other way to put it,” McCraken said. “The sooner we do something to stem the flow on our borders, the better off we’re going to be as a country.”In an indignant tone, he says, “This isn’t what this country is all about. This is a country of laws.”There are thought to be about 11.5 million illegal immigrants in the United States today, with an estimated 500,000 to 1 million crossing the border and entering the country illegally each year – mostly via the 2,000-mile southern border between the U.S. and Mexico.

That’s where McCraken is headed again, for his second tour of duty with the controversial Minuteman Project – a makeshift volunteer detail of civilians patrolling the southern border for illegals.He spent three dusty weeks on Minuteman patrol last April along Arizona’s border region, camped out with a handful of like-minded Minutemen – binoculars, cell phones and two-way radios in hand. He expects their activities to be similar this time around. If and when they spot someone illegally crossing onto U.S. soil – essentially they’re witnesses to a crime – they call it in to the local Border Patrol, who may or may not respond.”The rules of engagement are not to engage. The rules are simply to observe and report … that’s it,” he said.Last year, the “action” as McCraken calls it, was limited. He estimated 16 illegals were apprehended by the Border Patrol based on reports from his team during his last tour of service.

“I think our greatest success has been drawing attention to the problem. A secondary success has actually been to mitigate the problem to a minor degree,” he said.The nation’s attention was first drawn to the volunteer group last year. McCraken said he remembers a gaggle of media surrounding the Minuteman headquarters town of Tombstone, Ariz., when he first registered for patrols last year. “You would have thought the Super Bowl was in town,” he said.He expects less press and more Minutemen when he reports for duty this time around. He estimated 800 volunteers last year, and he expects “a lot more.”He expects to see more activity on the border this trip, as well, saying that he’s heard reports of increased violence between crossers and border officials in that area.

“(Crossers) are just becoming more and more aggressive and obnoxious,” he said.While the Minutemen are generally well-received in the border towns they help patrol, McCraken said, their effort has been a lightning rod of controversy since its inception.”I don’t know why everybody’s not down there,” McCraken said. “It’s just such a big deal. I’m surprised there’s not a bigger public outcry.”In addition to growing numbers of Minutemen joining the ranks on the border, the number of protesters, observers and humanitarian aid groups are swelling as well in the region.

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