Vigilante Air Force Combats Illegal Immigrants

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A California man has assembled a vigilante air force and army to patrol an area of the Mexican border used frequently by illegal immigrants. James Gilchrist says that so far 16 pilots have offered themselves and their aircraft to help out the Minuteman Project, which he hopes will embarrass the government into stopping "the endless mob of illegal aliens streaming across our borders like a tsunami." The aircraft and up to 400 volunteers will patrol an area south of Tucson that is considered particularly prone to border jumping. Gilchrist said the volunteers will use binoculars, telescopes and night-vision gear to spot the aliens and report them to immigration officials. They won't try to turn them back themselves. Still, the project's Web site does offer "an enthusiastic invitation" to those with military or law-enforcement experience, particularly those who did tours as reconnaissance and intelligence personnel. Meanwhile, U.S. Border Patrol personnel seem less worried about embarrassment and more concerned about the welfare of the volunteers. "It doesn't take a lot of imagination to picture what could happen," Chief Michael Nicely told The Associated Press. He said alien smugglers are often armed and not shy about confronting even his well-trained and heavily armed officers. "It could be a very [volatile] situation, one that reasonable people ought to avoid."