Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Fence-building fervor wanes

Minutemen hot, hire contractor to finish fence project

Wayman Stokley (left), 48, and David Meabon, 59, mix concrete to secure stress panels for a new 5-strand, barbed-wire fence being built by members of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps on a ranch bordering Mexico near Palominas.

Wayman Stokley (left), 48, and David Meabon, 59, mix concrete to secure stress panels for a new 5-strand, barbed-wire fence being built by members of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps on a ranch bordering Mexico near Palominas.

Soaring heat has led to a shortage of Minuteman volunteers building 10 miles of fence along a rancher’s property near Sierra Vista, and the group has hired a contractor to finish the job.

Leaders of the group, formally the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, said the move will also ensure quality control.

“We don’t want to put up something that will just be a symbol,” said Al Garza, executive director of the Minutemen. “We want to make sure it’s permanent, properly structured and done right.”

Volunteers are still working on the fence alongside the contractors, Garza said.

The Minutemen began their fence on Memorial Day weekend in part to spur a similar effort by the federal government. About 150 supporters turned out for the May 27 groundbreaking, but the number of volunteers dwindled in the following days.

As few as four people were observed working on the fence recently, said Cecile Lumer of the humanitarian-aid group Citizens for Border Solutions. She said the Minutemen may have bitten off more than they could chew.

“The Minutemen have always been good at promoting themselves to the media,” Lumer said. “And from the beginning the numbers they have projected have always fallen very short of the reality.”

The ranch near Palominas where the fence is being built is owned by Jack Ladd and his son, John, who had no objection to a contractor taking over the job – especially since the Minutemen are footing the bill.

“They assured us when we first talked about it that they would complete it, and that’s what they’re doing,” Jack Ladd said.

The new fence already has been vandalized in 19 places, the Ladds said. They filed a report with the Cochise County sheriff Tuesday.

Despite the Minutemen’s claims, the Ladds say the fence will never keep people out.

“From our perspective, the whole idea of the fence is to keep Mexican livestock out. We know a barbed wire fence isn’t going to keep people out,” he said. “We want to make it clear that while we oppose illegal immigration, we weren’t necessarily trying to keep Mexicans off the land.”

Stokley, a union iron worker from Houston, spent about a week in south<br />
ern Arizona with the Minutemen.

Stokley, a union iron worker from Houston, spent about a week in south
ern Arizona with the Minutemen.

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