CALIFORNIA, Governor defends border watchers
Minutemen likely to be discussed on visit to Baja governor
Carla Marinucci, Chronicle Political Writer
September 22, 2005
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who heads to Mexico on Friday to discuss border and education issues, congratulated the federal government this week for improving border enforcement -- and stuck by his defense of a citizens border patrol group as a neighborhood watch group that is not harming anybody.
Schwarzenegger, in an interview with The Chronicle, addressed the issue of California-Mexico relations and illegal immigration before his trip to Mexicali, the capital of Baja California, to meet with Baja California Gov. Eugenio Elorduy.
The governor said he'll talk about trade, cultural and educational exchanges, and tourism during the meeting.
But asked how he would address Mexican concern about the anti-illegal immigration citizens' patrol called the Minutemen, Schwarzenegger did not retreat from his past support for the group.
"It's no different than if you have a neighborhood watch person there that's watching your children at the playground. I don't see it any different," he said. "Or, if I have my personal guards at the house, because I feel like the police (are) not going to be able to take care of the job because they are overwhelmed. It's just that private citizens take on the responsibility."
The governor stressed the Minutemen organization should be held to high standards. "(The) key to the whole thing that we have no violations, and we have no one carrying guns, and no one is harassing people," he said. "But they notify the border patrol if they miss somebody -- end of story. That's the mission.
"I think no one in Mexico should be offended by that, because we are not harming anybody."
The governor is scheduled to be accompanied to Mexico by Sunne Wright McPeak, the state's business, transportation and housing secretary, in addition to Homeland Security Director Matthew Bettenhausen and Education Secretary Alan Bersin. It will be the second meeting this week for Schwarzenegger and Mexican officials. The governor met Tuesday with Geronimo Gutierrez, Mexico's undersecretary for North American affairs in Sacramento.
Schwarzenegger, whose poll numbers have fallen precipitously among Latino voters in California, could be in for some tough criticism in Mexico -- where officials and average citizens have bridled at his suggestions that the Minutemen organization, which President Bush criticized as vigilantes, could be a positive force on the border.
Political analyst Sherry Bebitch Jeffe said Schwarzenegger will no doubt take heat for his comments on the Minutemen and the border.
She said among California's Latino voters, "he has gone down dramatically in his approval ratings (because of) the Minutemen." She noted that while Schwarzenegger drew at least a third of the Latino votes in the October 2003 recall election, current polls show more than 70 percent of Latinos now disapprove of his job performance.
"I have to believe that this is what Arnold truly believes -- that there's no political calculation in it," she said. But there is also a strong possibility that the governor's get-tough comments on immigration reflect that "he's adopted a Bush-like strategy" as he nears the special election.
In the 2004 presidential race, Bebitch Jeffe recalled, the Bush team decided to "just go for the party base and get their people out, and pray for an overall low turnout election. And I think that is part of what's going on here."
Schwarzenegger said that in two previous conferences for U.S. and Mexican border governors, "I made it very clear that we take care of our problems our way, and they take care of their problems their way," he said. "We maybe don't agree with the way we take care of it, but we can respect one another. "
Schwarzenegger, in the interview Tuesday, praised federal officials for responding to his requests for more border guards and better security to help stem an increased flow of illegal immigrants. He specifically noted Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff's announcement this month that the Bush administration intends to speed the way to finish the final 3.5 miles of a 14-mile $32 million border fence running through San Diego to the Pacific Ocean.
"My preference is that the federal government takes care of the issue, and I have to say that the federal government has come through with their promise," he said.
Though California environmentalists have complained that the Bush administration has waved environmental regulations to complete the border fence quickly, Schwarzenegger said, "Chertoff has now made the commitment of finishing the fence ... in an environmentally sound way. That was terrific."
And, he said, the federal government has also delivered on its promise to staff more guards on the Mexico-U.S. border, adding "that's the reason why we did not declare a state of emergency" on the border as have Democratic governors in New Mexico and Arizona.
"What I have been saying all year (is) secure the borders, which people call prejudice ... but it's not," the governor said. "We love Mexico, and we want to do business with Mexico. We love to have our people go down there as tourists and to enjoy themselves ... and we like to have trade with them. They are our friends."
At least he didn't call them a bunch of vigilantes like some we could mention...
has anyone heard of the minutemen coming to south texas?
i heard some rumors of this but i never found out if they ever showed up
IIRC they will start their border watch in one week
He says they shouldnt carry guns?
I'm still trying to figure it out
bush is pro-illegal
dems are pro-minority
(in word, not in deed)
but the dems attack bush on his pro-illegal policies
repubs are telling bush that their voters are pissed about illegals
(and it might be costing the repubs elections in the next election)
California Gov. Schwarzenegger Travels to Mexico to Improve Image With Hispanics
By John Rice Associated Press Writer
Sep 23, 2005
MEXICALI, Mexico (AP) - California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, looking to improve his image with Hispanics at home, arrived in Mexico on Friday and met with Baja California Gov. Eugenio Elorduy about security issues, immigration and a controversial border canal.
Schwarzenegger has come under fire from many of his state's 12 million Hispanics for opposing driver's licenses for illegal immigrants and proposing health and welfare cuts that would have hit Hispanics hard.
He angered both Californians and the Mexican government when he praised a citizen border patrol and said California's border with Mexico should be closed - something he quickly apologized for.
In Mexico, Schwarzenegger has developed a reputation as being anti-immigrant.
"He doesn't want Mexicans to go," to California, said Victor Faz, a 16-year-old street taco vendor in Mexicali. "And they are the ones that help the state get ahead."
But not everyone is critical. Asked what he thought of the California governor, Ricardo Vivanco, a 28-year-old loan company worker in Mexicali, said: "He makes good movies."
Schwarzenegger's trip to Mexico marks the start of a US$1 million (euro823,045) campaign aimed directly at Hispanic voters in California using Spanish- language television ads to improve his image among Hispanics.
Friday's visit to Mexico will be his second as governor. During his first visit, in July, he made no public comments and only attended a dinner of border governors from both the United States and Mexico.
Schwarzenegger was scheduled to begin his visit with a private meeting with Elorduy. Afterward, both governors were expected to talk with graduate students in a binational education program.
Also on the agenda is a proposal to line the All-American Canal with concrete. The 80-mile (130-kilometer) canal directs water from the Colorado River to farms in California's Imperial Valley. Construction is scheduled to begin next year and be finished in 2008.
However, Mexican President Vicente Fox - and Elorduy - have opposed the project, arguing that farmers and wildlife south of the border depend on the canal seepage flowing into an underground aquifer that is pumped to irrigate crops in Baja California's Mexicali Valley.
Mexicali's Economic Development Council said they will ask Elorduy and Schwarzenegger to conduct a study on how lining the canal could impact the surrounding economy and immigration patterns.