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Herndon's Minutemen Look to Future

After witnessing the fall of a slate of candidates who supported a day labor site in Herndon in recent local elections, the town's chapter of the Minutemen Civil Defense Corps has outlined their next steps in its battle against illegal information.

George Taplin, director of the chapter, announced that as a result of what the group perceives as a victory in the election, the Herndon Chapter of the Minutemen will dissolve into the larger Virginia Minutemen organization and work to take the fight to the politicians who support illegal immigration.

"Our main goal was to bring the tragedy of what happened in Herndon with the day labor site that was foisted upon the town's residents to light," said Taplin, as he spoke to those who attended the Minutemen meeting Monday evening at the Herndon Library. "The Town Council didn't listen to their residents. Well, it's 10 months later and the council doesn't have to listen any further. They can all go home."

"What did one guy say? 'This makes it worth it going out on all those days in two-degree weather,'" he added to applause from the audience.

The Herndon Chapter of the Minutemen was started in October, 2005, in response to the large number of day laborers soliciting work in front of the town's 7-Eleven, according to Taplin. The group focused their efforts on photographing people as they hired workers for various jobs as a way of deterring those who would hire illegal immigrants.

"If you’re not down there patrolling the border, you’re up here, you have to do what you can to bring about change," Taplin said.

"What we need to do is use the same model [in other parts of Virginia] that we used in Herndon to get the people out and educated on the issue," Taplin said. "I'm going to be working with people throughout the state doing letter-writing campaigns ... [and] automated tactics with things like faxes and e-mails [to politicians]."

Taplin outlined for his audience how the group needed to expand its area of operations to Loudoun County and elsewhere in the state, focusing on keeping residents "educated" about immigration issues and understanding where political representatives stand on immigration.

"This is not a Republican or Democratic or Libertarian issue, it crosses the political lines" he added. "We need to get active in Loudoun County and get the people of like-mind in there."

Taplin was quick to note that the Minutemen as an organization does not endorse particular candidates; they can gather information about politicians and disseminate it among the public.

PRESENT AT THE EVENT was recently-elected Town Council member Dennis Husch, who said that while he is not a member of the Herndon Chapter of the Minutemen, this was the third meeting he had attended.

The Herndon Minutemen "can say quite clearly that the people in Herndon did not end up legitimizing spending taxpayer money to support illegal immigration," Husch said. "I think that while they can use [the election results] as a credit for their interests, I don't think they can necessarily take credit for the results."

"I think a lot of people in Herndon agree with them."

Minutemen member Lisa Turner from Reston said that while the group will be changing as it becomes part of the larger Virginia Minutemen its mission and leadership will remain the same.

"I don't think necessarily we'll see a lot of change," Turner said. "I think we'll still have a lot of leadership from George [Taplin]. If anything we'll have more unity within the group statewide."

THE ACTIVITY AT the day labor site, the Herndon Official Worker's Center, has been steadily increasing over the months, despite the efforts of the local Minutemen according to site director Bill Threlkeld.

"As part of a larger institution they've done well with the media and in bringing the debate to a higher national level," Threlkeld said in a phone interview. "But I don’t think there was too much of an impact here locally."

Taplin said that while he believes the hiring rates to be lower than reported at the day labor site, that the group's organizational powers must not stop with surveillance of the hiring of illegal immigrants.

In the town elections "we voted for people knowing what they stand for, so let's make sure that they still stand for it," Taplin said. "We've shown the politicians that if they don't do what the people want, the people can get rid of [them] and it can happen again."