Hispanic leaders urging prayer as Minutemen begin
April 1, 2005
State Hispanic leaders are calling for prayer and peaceful dialogue on immigration and border issues as they announce the formation of a White Ribbon Committee in response to the monthlong Minuteman Project that begins today in Tombstone.
The Minuteman Project, a civilian group, claims to have organized up to 1,000 volunteers, some armed, to patrol a 40-mile stretch of the U.S.-Mexican border in Cochise County in search of people crossing into this country illegally.
"The Minuteman Project is about fear and division," said Armando Ruiz, a former Phoenix state senator who is an international Catholic lay worker and an organizer of the White Ribbon Committee.
"Our message is about prayer, hope and unity," said Ruiz of Mary's Ministries, a nonprofit, worldwide evangelization and spiritual leadership development project based in Arizona.
"We are asking that people in the community pray about this issue and the need for elected officials to resolve what is happening at the border," Ruiz said Thursday. "It doesn't matter what side of the issue you are on."
In addition to the prayer campaign, organizers are also passing out white ribbons to put on vehicle antennas. "We launched this campaign on Good Friday in Phoenix and passed out 10,000 ribbons. We want to blanket the state with white ribbons," Ruiz said.
Phoenix and Tucson religious and political leaders, including Mexican Consul Juan M. Calderón-Jaimes, are holding a press conference this afternoon at 12:30 at El Tiradito shrine at 400 S. Main Ave. Downtown.
"What bothers me the most is that citizens are taking it upon themselves to be enforcers of immigration law," said Lorraine Lee, also a committee organizer and vice president of Chicanos por la Causa, a nonprofit corporation that offers programs in housing, education and economic development.
"We are hoping to draw upon an international dialogue, and more importantly, call on Congress to truly do something. We need a true reform that takes everybody into account, not just the agenda of a few," Lee said.
Ruiz said the committee includes representatives of the National Council of La Raza and the César Chávez Foundation. He said committee members are also talking to the Arizona Interfaith Council and representatives of the dioceses of Phoenix and Tucson and the Archdiocese of Hermosillo, Sonora.
A border and immigration forum is being planned for May or June, and those to be invited include U.S. and Mexican political leaders and Minuteman Project members, Ruiz said.
"All is possible with dialogue," said Ruiz. "A half-hour of dialogue can accomplish more than 10 years of conflict."
● Contact reporter Carmen Duarte at 573-4104 or cduarte@azstarnet.com.