War with Iraq may or may not come, but war of another
kind is already here.
Earlier this month a plainspoken gentleman of Arizona
named Chris Simcox announced that a citizens` group he
Tombstone Militia—was about to undertake the
function of protecting his state`s and the country`s
borders from invasion.
In Arizona illegal immigrants continue to pour across
the borders in numbers undiminished
by or since Sept. 11, 2001. While the federal
government has responded to the 9/11 attacks by
conquering Afghanistan, threatening war against Iraq,
creating a vast new agency to fight terrorism and
unleashing the security and intelligence communities
enhanced powers, it has done almost nothing to
control or reduce immigration.
That`s why Mr. Simcox is going to war—or, more
accurately, non-war. "It is a monumental disgrace,"
he told the
Washington Times, "that our government is
letting the American people down, turning us into the
expendable casualties of the war on terrorism." Mr.
Simcox was planning to deploy some 50 members of his
600-member private militia group to "protect their
country" against illegal aliens, and while he was
threatening to do no more than round up the illegals he
caught and turn them over to the proper federal
authorities, he also went out of his way to warn the
not to get in his way.
In recent years, the crisis caused by mass illegal
immigration in Arizona has escalated. As the government
actually did improve enforcement on some parts of the
border, the improvement itself tended to drive aliens
away from their usual crossing places and toward new
In Arizona, that meant crossing onto private
burglarizing or destroying it, and leaving trails of
garbage, excrement, and refuse behind. Ranchers
found cattle and sheep slaughtered so aliens could munch
a few handfuls of their flesh.
Complaints to Washington went unheard—except that any
hint of civilian enforcement
brought forth threats of federal crackdowns.
Indeed, that`s exactly what`s happened to Mr. Simcox.
While Washington under neither the Clinton nor Bush
administrations has done much to control the mass
violation of our immigration laws and the safety of the
citizens, it has jumped at the chance to crack down on
Mr. Simcox and his "militia."
"Federal and state lawmakers," the Times
reports, "have targeted Mr. Simcox for hearings
to determine if he has violated any laws in forming the
armed militia organization and posting its members on
private land to stop illegal aliens, smugglers, and drug
Wouldn`t it make just a bit more sense for the
"federal and state lawmakers" to hold a few hearings
about the known lawbreakers, the "illegal aliens,
smugglers, and drug dealers" whom Mr. Simcox plans
One of the chief investigators, a gentleman named
Raul Grijalva, who takes office next month as a U.S.
congressman from Arizona, spouts that "Armed civilian
groups on the border contribute to an already fragile
situation, and their rhetoric is very dangerous to the
overall security of the region."
here for Chris Simcox`s
reply to Congressman Elect Grijalva in PDF format.]
But of course if the situation is "already
fragile," why doesn`t the congressman-elect [send
him mail] apply his talents to making it less
fragile – by demanding that the government send
troops to the border to control illegal immigration?
That in fact is precisely what Mr. Simcox wants the
government to do.
Mr. Simcox issued a statement demanding that federal
and state officials "uphold the oath of office they
took to protect America" from foreign invasion, and
he stated that while his militia members would carry
legal handguns to protect themselves, they would carry
no rifles. Their purpose is not to shoot down
lawbreaking aliens on sight but to protect themselves
and their rights.
What Mr. Simcox is doing is not only entirely
defensible and probably entirely legal; it happens to be
in the mainstream of popular and (small-R) republican
government. If the government won`t enforce the law, the
citizens whom the law is supposed to protect and from
whom the law ultimately derives must
do it themselves.
How else does Mr. Grijalva and, for that matter,
President Bush imagine that citizens will react?
The Bush administration prior to the 9/11 attacks was
planning to push for an amnesty for illegal Mexican
aliens; those plans went south after the attacks but are
creeping back into policy discussions.
What no one seems to have discussed or planned is to
send U.S. troops to the border to do what the Border
Patrol apparently cannot do and what Mr. Simcox and his
private soldiers are trying to do.
If Mr. Grijalva and the other office-holders so eager
to drag Mr. Simcox before their committees really want
to help the "fragile situation" they`re complaining
about, they might try the simple expedient of enforcing
the laws against the immigrants whom we know are already
December 30, 2002