Interview with a Minuteman

Illegal immigration is out of control. As a result, our nation’s security is at risk. A group of Americans has decided to do what George Bush refuses to do: protect Americans from the scourge of illegal immigration.


This is the first part of an interview with John Smallberries, a former Marine and a volunteer pilot for the Minuteman Project, a group of American volunteers who will patrol the Arizona-Mexico border to deter border jumpers. The mythmaking and urban legends about the group have already begun (They’re going to shoot the Mexicans?), so I wanted to set the record straight and let you hear a firsthand account of what the project is and more importantly, why it is.


Me: What is the Minuteman Project?

John Smallberries: For me – the project is simply a “stunt” — like a march or a sit-in. The situation at the border is 100% out of control — but who knows that? Very few people, simply because the border is far away, there is a huge “somebody else’s problem” issue.

What we hope to show is the lack of security, plus the HUGE numbers of people crossing the border every day IS a problem. Forget the illegal immigration issue, forget the tons and tons of dope, how about just one backpack nuke? Or a canister of nerve gas? No matter where you live — those things could ruin your whole day! This is something that matters to all of us who enjoy breathing, and prefer not to glow in the dark. Who cares where you live? We want to help everyone understand this a problem they need to be concerned about.


Me: Tell us a little about yourself and why you volunteered.

JS: I’m a former US Marine — many people in the project are — but I’m not very special. I’m 38, I’ve been to Iraq twice — once as a Marine, the second time as a “contractor” doing training and (irony alert) border control.

A few weekends a month, I work on a ranch in San Diego that is on the US/Mexico border and help with security. There is a small group of us, and between the 10 of us, we’ve turned several thousand (yes — thousand) folks over to the Border Patrol in 5 years. So I’m a little more in tune with the issue than most.

I volunteered for this operation for number of reasons. First — Jim Gilchrist. He is an upstanding man, and this is the first “non kooky” action I’ve seen to address the border issue. While others have tried similar efforts — Jim is calm (mostly) , and someone I can respect. Other folks have just been too unprofessional, or reeked of “yahoo” thrill seeker, or just plain ugly racist. He appealed to me as someone worth working for, and I would not be embarrassed to be associated with.


As to the larger issue: I believe it is practically inevitable there is going to be another 9/11 if we don’t do something at the border. Between loose nukes, and homemade WMD’s — there are lots of ways to hurt us, and no lack of crazies who would enjoy exactly that. I think we owe the people that died last 9/11 two things: 1) avenge their deaths, and 2) prevent this from EVER happening again.

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