Friday, January 5, 2007

Minutemen build their own border fence

America's Minutemen build their own fence against Mexican migrants. Dan Glaister in Naco,Arizona

[The following correction was printed in the Guardian's Corrections and clarifications column, Friday January 5 2007 Mexico's border with the United States does not stretch from California to Florida, as was stated in error in the article below. The US states on the border are California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas.]

Two men stand working in the afternoon sun just yards from the US-Mexico border. Clad in hard hats and work shirts, tool belts slung around their waists, they have been toiling at this spot in the Arizona desert since early October. One holds an iron stanchion while the other bolts a horizontal bar to it. But before the joint can be tightened, the whole structure starts to sway. A shout goes up: "Watch out!" The five metre pole lurches toward the dry red earth, bringing its neighbour down with it. The latest weapon in the fight against undocumented migrants looks a little shaky.

The iron and steel fence is the latest project from the Minutemen, the volunteer group of anti-immigration activists that has placed itself at the sharp end of the immigration debate since launching a highly publicised series of border watches in 2005. Now, frustrated at what the group sees as the inaction of government, it has taken matters a step further, building its own border fence at a cost of around $1m (£510,000) at one of the busiest points on the line, 90 miles from Tucson.

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