Illinois Minutemen: Here to Help, Either Way
Source: Chicago Tribune
Note: Back in the 60's, IDOT's Emergency Traffic Patrol were nicknamed "minutemen" because of their rapid response to highway emergencies.
When the state's tow-truck teams found their Minutemen nickname increasingly confused with immigration enforcement advocates of the same name, some managers decided to steer clear of controversy.Whether helping stranded motorists, or standing up for the rights of America's citizens and legal immigrants, I say the Minuteman name works just fine -- and honors its colonial namesake.
But last week, Illinois Department of Transportation officials decided to stick with the name motorists have gotten used to during the last four decades, regardless of who else is using it.
During the last several weeks, Minutemen managers in the Chicago area had begun replacing "Illinois Minutemen" patches on drivers' coveralls with ones that say "Emergency Traffic Patrol," the group's original and official name. Graphics on the lime-yellow tow-trucks that contained the phrase "Illinois Minutemen" also were scheduled to be removed, according to drivers.
The public relations tune-up was an attempt to distinguish the red-jumpsuited Minutemen, who patrol Illinois highways for disabled vehicles, from other Minutemen groups who have patrolled the U.S.-Mexican border for illegal immigrants and are a prominent voice for stricter immigration enforcement.
Emma Lozano, director of Centro Sin Fronteras, which advocates for legal and illegal immigrants, said the decision from IDOT headquarters was unfortunate.Alas, Ms. Lozano, the illegal immigrant has precious little to fear in these here parts when it comes to law enforcement. But may I point out that it would be a moot point if they hadn't broken the law in the first place?
"I wish they would have [made the change] because it would have shown such understanding about what the immigrant community is going through," she said.
Lozano said the word "minuteman" has developed a negative connotation for many Mexicans and Mexican-Americans, especially new immigrants who know the word only from the immigration debate. She doesn't doubt that someone, somewhere has mistaken the tow trucks for an illegal-immigrant patrol.
Illegal Immigration * Minutemen * Illinois * Emma Lozano