Mark Stine KOLD News 13 Reporter
"We're two and a half miles from the border everything you see down there is Mexico."
Joe Scelso owns the Rockin JP Ranch in Cochise County. He's been dealing with illegal immigrants for nearly a decade. "I've picked up probably, in the last 8 years, a couple hundred backpacks."
Scelso says the Minutemen Project in April must have left an ongoing effect on the border, because it's still pretty quiet around his ranch. "It wasn't until they did show up down here that we finally got the relief we've been hoping for, because the government sure hasn't been doing it," Scelso told KOLD News 13.
Until the government steps in, Scelso would like the volunteers to be a permanent fixture along the border. "Well I'd love to have them here all the time to be honest with you."
They might not be down in Cochise County all the time, but the minutemen are making it clear, their not giving up on the border. "This isn't a passing craze," Minuteman Mitch Geiger said.
With just a few days notice, the minutemen organized nearly 150 volunteers to watch the Arizona/Mexico border this weekend. "This is something we feel really strongly about and it's unfortunate that I have to take another weekend out of my life to come down here," Geiger told KOLD News 13.
Mitch Geiger helped with the Minuteman Project most of the month of April. When he heard his help was needed again, he jumped at the chance.
Geiger says the Border Patrol presence he saw last month isn't the same. "In April, there were hundreds of them driving up and down this highway here," Geiger continued. "I can count the number I've seen drive past on one hand."
When the minutemen locate illegal border crossers, they say they don't confront them, they call border patrol to come and pick them up. But Geiger says, the border patrol response time is also quite different. "A two, three or four minute response time last month, has now increased to a documented 15 to 20 minute response time."
The Border Patrol says they are still operating at the same capacity they were in April. They added, it's still their priority to respond to citizen calls.
Mitch Geiger says he doesn't blame the Border Patrol and the minutemen are on the border to support them. But Geiger does say he and the minutemen will follow through until the border is secure. "We're back and we'll be happy to come back next weekend if we need to until you guys get your act straightened out."
And rancher Joe Scelso says he'll do what he can to keep the minutemen around for good. "I'll go out there and give them lunch or whatever it takes if they'd be willing to stay here because they're doing a fantastic job. It's having an effect, it's had an effect."
7831 N. Business Park Drive