Unlike other anti-immigrant groups, the Minutemen are not a single organization; rather, they are a loose network of local chapters around the country, whose primary goal is to keep undocumented immigrants from Mexico out of the United States.
Claiming they wanted to draw attention to the undocumented immigrant issue, anti-immigration extremists founded the Minuteman Project in April 2005 with the idea of organizing armed border patrols along the Arizona-Mexico border. The Project’s leaders consisted of California resident Jim Gilchrist and Arizona resident Chris Simcox, who was then leader of the Civil Homeland Defense, another border vigilante group. Highly publicized, the Minuteman Project attracted a variety of anti-immigrant activists, including extremists ranging from militia members to white supremacists. Since 2005, Gilchrist and Simcox have parted ways. Gilchrist’s group retained the Minuteman Project name, and he is president of the organization. Simcox has since formed another border vigilante group, the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, based in Arizona.
Not all Minutemen chapters are border vigilante groups, partly because many chapters are far from the border. Some of these other chapters have adopted tactics such as videotaping alleged undocumented immigrants at their places of work, based on the color of their skin. Whatever their tactics, the Minutemen’s goals have received the support of a wide range of individuals, from extremists to media commentators and politicians. As a result, more mainstream figures in the anti-immigration movement are willing to overlook, tolerate or, in some cases, even share the stage with more extreme Minutemen chapters, as well as other border vigilante groups such as the virulently anti-Hispanic group American Border Patrol (ABP), in order to advance their agenda.
The Minutemen are the common thread that links many of the mainstream and extremist elements of the anti-immigration movement, many of whom appear together at events staged by the group. The tactics and activities of the Minutemen have acted as a rallying cry for other groups and figures that oppose immigration in this country.
Please see the following ADL reports related to the Minutemen: