On Patrol in Vt., Minutemen Are the Outsiders
Monday, October 31, 2005
DERBY LINE, Vt. -- Somewhere near this spot -- where five men with lawn chairs and binoculars were watching the woods -- runs the long and mostly invisible border between the United States and Canada.
The New England Minutemen were here to guard this border.
They just weren't precisely certain where it was.
"That's west, so I believe the border is that way," said Jeffrey Buck, the group's leader, as he made an expansive gesture in the direction of a nearby home on Saturday. "It's not really clear to me."
This weekend was the second that Buck's group, an offshoot of the Arizona-based Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, tried to replicate their Mexican border patrols here on the wooded Vermont-Quebec boundary.
Among their other problems, including bad cell phone reception and angry protesters, perhaps the most vexing has been the difficulty of finding the border itself.
At least in Arizona, Buck said, there are fences.
"You had some kind of demarcation" there, he said. Here, "You have really no fences, nothing."
The Minutemen have now come north, bringing to the woodsy, lightly populated 5,525-mile U.S.-Canada border the same kind of patrols that sprang up to curb illegal immigration from Mexico. Besides the patrols in Vermont, other Minutemen groups have set up watches this month in Washington state and Montana, Minutemen co-founder Chris Simcox said Sunday.
The Minutemen say the patrols here are a natural extension of their movement, which has grown to include chapters in large cities. One of these chapters, in Northern Virginia, has recently announced plans to patrol day-labor sites in Herndon to look for workers who have entered the country illegally.
The United States' northern border, according to the group, bears watching because it also has problems with immigrants being smuggled across, and because it could provide a way for terrorists to infiltrate the country.
"The Canadian border is the forgotten border," Buck said Saturday. "Nobody thinks about it as a problem."