Photo by Tenaya HillsYour Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim don't start their schedule until this Tuesday against the Texas Rangers, but the local sporting season actually begins on April Fool's Day. That's when Aliso Viejo native Jim Gilchrist will lead about 1,000 members of his Minuteman Project to Tombstone for 30 days and attempt to thwart any illegal immigrants from crossing a 20-mile stretch of the Arizona-Mexico border (see "The Anti-Immigrant Movement's Trotsky," Feb. 11).
Other anti-immigrant activists have pledged support to the Minuteman Project, but a strong opposition movement ranging from college students to Salvadoran gangsters vows to blockade Gilchrist from blockading illegal immigrants. With such defense-minded sides, it could be the brawl of the year—or as boring as a Knicks-Nets basketball game.
Here are the starters:
YOUR ORANGE COUNTY XENOPHOBES
JimGilchrist:A retired CPA, Gilchrist co-heads the Minuteman Project with Chris Simcox (see below). The self-proclaimed "left-wing wacko" plans to enlist his troops after the 30-day desert run with the IRS so they can assist the agency in tracking down "capitalist pigs" who hire illegal immigrants. Strengths:Warm, articulate, a Purple Heart veteran. Weakness:His warnings of a racial apocalypse don't ring true, considering his son-in-law is Mexican and one of his Chihuahuas is named Ta.
ChrisSimcox:Editor of the TombstoneTumbleweedand co-head of the Minuteman Project. In a March 2003 speech to the Huntington Beach-based California Coalition for Immigration Reform (CCIR), he warned prospective illegal immigrants, "Take heed of our weapons because we're going to defend our borders by any means necessary." Strength:Knows the border intimately, as he has led people on patrols there before. Weakness:His lazy eye scares the bejesus out of everyone within a mile.
BarbaraCoe:Grande dame of the anti-immigrant movement, head of CCIR. Many in her group plan to join the Minuteman Project. Babs, though, is getting on in years and thus likely to stay home in Huntington Beach and fret about the Mexicans cutting her neighbor's grass. Strength:Coe's resolve helped push through Proposition 187, California's 1994 anti-immigrant measure. Weakness:Has an affinity for wearing different-colored shoes.
THE LOYAL OPPOSITION
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VicenteFox:President of Mexico, owner of the greatest mustache since Hitler's. In a March 17 interview with the ArizonaRepublic,Fox opined that Mexico "totally reject[s] the idea of these migrant-hunting groups. . . . We will use the law, international law and even U.S. law to make sure that these types of groups, which are a minority . . . will not have any opportunity to progress." Strength:That mustache! Weakness:His anti-anti-immigrant rhetoric would sound stronger if he opened up the Mexico-Guatemala border, which many have called the Berlin Wall of the Americas.
MaraSalvatruchas:Notorious Salvadoran gang based in Los Angeles that recently made inroads into Santa Ana. Supposedly, a Salvatruchas leader ordered his underlings to visit Tombstone in April and "teach [Gilchrist] a lesson." Strength:Many of its members either fought for or had relatives with the FMLN (Farabundo Marti National Liberation). Weakness:Ha! We want to live another year, y'know?
UCRiverside:On March 19, a contingent of UCR students protested outside Gilchrist's home. Ethnic studies professor Armando Navarro is organizing a trip to monitor the Tombstone mess. Strength:Navarro, a veteran of previous Orange County immigration wars, is an adept leader. Weakness:Considers itself the Harvard of the Inland Empire, which is like saying Cal State Fullerton has a great football team.