PHILADELPHIA, PA -- April -- To document and challenge potential abuses resulting from the proposed "Minuteman Project," the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), an international social justice organization, will recruit and train volunteer observers who will be stationed along the U.S.-Mexico border in Cochise County, Arizona throughout the month of April. The effort is being spearheaded in collaboration with the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona.
"These will be nonviolent and non-confrontational observers who hope to ensure that state and federal laws are upheld and human and civil rights are respected," states Joyce Miller, AFSC assistant general secretary for justice & human rights. "They will not attempt to intervene or interfere, but merely observe the activities of the Minutemen and others and report any illegal activity to the proper authorities."
The effort is in response to the "Minuteman Project," which plans to bring hundreds of potentially armed volunteers from around the country to "observe and report illegal activity on and around the southern border of the United States."
The Service Committee is greatly concerned that the "Minuteman Project" has been highly publicized within white supremacist networks and among paramilitary organizations," according to a recent statement issued by the organization. Organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and various Arizona-based immigrant-rights organizations have received threatening phone calls and email from such groups, denouncing their efforts to promote bi-national unity and equitable immigration reform.
Additionally, the "Minuteman Project" seems to encourage possible violations of U.S. law, including false imprisonment.
"The 'Minuteman Project' is the latest expression of longstanding efforts by anti-immigrant groups to inflame the ongoing debate regarding immigration reform," according to the statement. "One of the predictable results of such efforts is to scapegoat undocumented immigrants as potential 'terrorists,' and to dehumanize them."
Keeping with its deeply held beliefs in the inherent worth and dignity of all people, the Service Committee called for the adoption of humane border policies and legalization for undocumented men, women and children residing in the United States.
"We believe that this situation is a result of our nation's failed border and immigration policies," the group continues. "Undocumented migration represents a desperate response to desperate economic circumstances, including war, persecution, civil strife, and severe economic distress.
Hundreds of people die of exposure and dehydration along the border every year, forced into the deserts by increasing militarization along the main border crossings."
The search for regional peace has been a major focus of the American Friends Service Committee's highly regarded international affairs work. The Service Committee supports the rights and dignity of all people, regardless of legal immigration status. Through its national initiative, Project Voice, AFSC works to strengthen the voices of immigrants and immigrant-led organizations in setting the national agenda for policy and human rights.
The American Friends Service Committee is a Quaker organization that includes people of various faiths who are committed to social justice, peace and humanitarian service. Its work is based on the belief in the worth of every person and faith in the power of love to overcome violence and injustice.