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SETCO hosts Minutemen leader
Braun: Pushes for tighter borders.
Carl Braun, executive director for the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps of California continued to invoke controversy Thursday night during a dinner hosted by the Southeastern Tulare County Republican Women.
Braun was met by local conservatives and immigration rights activists at the Visalia Convention Center.
Â“Our job is to step up where the government is falling down,Â” Braun said before his dinner presentation. Â“Our borders are wide open. There are 15,000 people coming through each day and 3,000 of them are criminals.Â”
The speaker began his presentation will comments on how his organizationÂ’s efforts are not based on race, and how he himself worked for the betterment of women and minorities in the U.S.
However, the tone later shifted to one of classic fear mongering. Braun employed verbal imagery to illustrate his point that Anglos are being displaced by those coming across the border, and that the nationÂ’s ills are linked to illegal immigration.
Â“By 2015 we will be a third world nation because of legal and illegal immigration,Â” Braun said. Â“We must stop both legal and illegal immigration or our nation as we know it will end.Â”
The message was considerably more extreme than the one Braun shared earlier with members of the local media when he accused protestors who accuse him of prejudice to be Â“playing the race card.Â”
Â“IÂ’ve worked for years as a consultant training large corporations on diversity recruiting,Â” Braun said. Â“Thousands of women and minorities have been hired because of my work, so to say that IÂ’m a racist is ridiculous.Â”
Not so, according to Woodville resident Pablo Espinoza.
Espinoza stood outside the Convention Center with members of the American Friends Committee, Proyecto Campesino and other supporters of immigrant rights.
Â“I read about these vigilantes,Â” Espinoza said. Â“You can call it by any name you like but itÂ’s the same as the KKK. ItÂ’s a racist thing, of course.Â”
Braun defended his organization and said all members go through a background check and an extensive interview to weed out racists or bigots.
Anyone wishing to register to participate in border watch operations can do so on the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps of California Web-site. The only requirements are that a person be 18 years old and pay the $50 non-refundable fee for a background check. The site makes no mention of an extensive interview process and instead refers to a Â“short phone interview.Â” In addition, the $50 registration fee is waived if the volunteer possesses a license to carry a concealed weapon.
A handful of local government leaders attended ThursdayÂ’s dinner including Porterville Mayor Cameron Hamilton, Visalia City Councilman Bob Link and Tulare County Supervisor Connie Conway.
A number of those in attendance, including Mayor Hamilton left the event during BraunÂ’s speech.
CORRECTION: Due to a reporting error on the part of a staff member contributing to this report, it was incorrectly reported in the print and online versions of this report that Porterville Mayor Cameron Hamilton left prior to the conclusion of Carl Braun's talk. Hamilton remained for the entire talk.