The Terminator praises Minuteman volunteers watching AZ and wants them in CA
(AP): Republican California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, aka The Terminator, who outraged some Mexican-American groups last week by calling for a closed border, has praised the Minuteman Project in which hundreds of volunteers have been patrolling the Arizona-Mexico boundary to spot illegal crossers.
“I think they've done a terrific job, and look, they've cut down the crossing of illegal immigrants by a huge percentage,” Schwarzenegger said in an interview Thursday on KFI -AM's “The John & Ken Show.”
The Terminator, an immigrant himself, accused the federal government of failing to control the borders and, in fact, encouraging illicit crossers by providing them access to water.
“The whole system is set up to really invite people to come in here illegally, and that has to stop,” he said.
The so-called Minuteman Project involves hundreds of volunteers, some armed, who have been patrolling the Arizona border since April 1 to document and report incidents of illegal crossing.
Chris Simcox, a Minuteman organizer, said he welcomed Schwarzenegger's support.
``It's gratifying to see that elected officials are responding to the will of the people,'' he said.
There are plans to expand the project to California in June.
Schwarzenegger ``does not oppose'' the group coming to California , said Margita Thompson, his press secretary.
President Bush has denounced the volunteers as vigilantes.
Nativo V. López, president of the Mexican-American Political Association, called Schwarzenegger's comments Thursday “nothing short of base racism.”
``Those of immigrant stock should have no illusions about what his real sentiments and feelings are toward them,'' he said.
``It's not racist to ask the federal government to enforce its laws,'' Schwarzenegger's press secretary said. ``Everyone should be united in wanting to protect our national security.''
U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said she was surprised that Schwarzenegger would be ``praising efforts by untrained volunteers to patrol the borders.''
``The best course would be to add an additional 2,000 border patrol agents,'' she said.
Assemblyman Hector De La Torre, D-South Gate, called the governor's comments “scapegoating and immigrant bashing.”
“To support vigilantism is completely against the oath he took'' to uphold the law, De La Torre said.
Schwarzenegger's comments came a week after he faced a barrage of criticism for telling a gathering of newspaper publishers that the United States needed to “close the borders.” He apologized the next day, blaming his faulty English and saying he really meant the borders should be secured.
During Thursday's radio interview, Schwarzenegger also called on Spanish-language television station KRCA-TV to take down billboards that identify its market as `` Los Angeles , México.''
``It promotes illegal aliens to come in here,'' the governor said.
Messages left after business hours Thursday at the Burbank offices of Liberman Broadcasting were not immediately returned. The company owns KRCA and three other Spanish-language TV stations in California and Texas .
Before Schwarzenegger's comments, company executive vice president Lenard Liberman told the Los Angeles Times, ``We tell the story behind LA, and we tell the story behind México.''
Referring to critics of the ads, he said, ``If they find that offensive, I'm sorry. But you just have to drive around LA to know that this is a Hispanic city.''
A report released in March by the Pew Hispanic Center estimates that about 11 million undocumented migrants now live in the United States, half of whom come from México. California is home to 2.4 million, far more than any other state.