[JURIST] Members of the private Minuteman Civil Defense Corps [advocacy website] have begun a new month-long campaign [press release; recruitment audio] in US states bordering Mexico and Canada to raise public awareness of illegal immigration. Minuteman volunteers watch the borders with binoculars and are instructed to contact government Border Control officials [Minuteman training manual, PDF] to report illegal immigrants. The campaign comes in the midst of contentious Senate debate [JURIST news archive] over new immigration legislation and protests [JURIST report] in several major cities against any severe legislative crackdown.
Minuteman volunteers conducted similar activities peacefully last year but some US Border Protection [official website] officials and civil liberties groups have raised concerns about the potential for violence between volunteers, some of whom carry guns, and immigrants. Critics regard members of the group as vigilantes [ACLU press release]. AP has more. The Arizona Daily Star has local coverage.