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No Plans for Citizen Border Patrols Seen

Times Staff Writer

One day after a top immigration official said his agency was looking at forming a civilian force to help patrol the U.S.-Mexico border, the Department of Homeland Security said Thursday that there were no such plans.

“There are currently no plans by the Department of Homeland Security to use civilian volunteers to patrol the border,” spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said in a statement. “That job should continue to be done by the highly trained, professional law enforcement officials of the Border Patrol and its partner agencies.”

Roehrkasse said the department had not received any details of the idea proposed by Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Robert Bonner.

Bonner told reporters Wednesday that his office was looking into whether the Border Patrol should create its own group of trained volunteer patrols, similar to auxiliary programs of local sheriff’s departments and other law enforcement agencies.

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“They would be organized in a way that would help the Border Patrol perform its mission,” Bonner said. He acknowledged that the idea had not been approved by the Department of Homeland Security.

Bonner also commended the Minuteman Project, citizens, some armed, who patrolled the Mexican border in Arizona this spring, for not engaging in vigilantism or using force.

A similar group, California Minutemen, is posted at the border east of San Diego to watch for illegal immigrants trying to cross into the United States. Some participants are armed.

The Department of Homeland Security said its Citizen Corps program provided an opportunity for volunteers to “support the homeland security mission.” Programs include a community emergency response team and a fire corps.

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