TUCSON, Ariz. – A civilian border watch group dismissed a volunteer who had an illegal immigrant pose for a mocking photograph.
Organizers of the Minuteman Project (search) said that although authorities determined the man had not illegally detained the immigrant, he still violated the group's procedures. They added that the volunteer had given the immigrant $20 and fed him during Wednesday's encounter.
"The volunteer's actions were admirable, justified and undeniably humane," Chris Simcox (search), a project official, said in a news release, "but unfortunately they jeopardized our established procedures and overall purpose of passively monitoring the border."
The project, which has organized round-the-clock shifts to watch for illegal activity along a section of the southeastern Arizona border throughout April, has set a policy requiring its members to avoid any physical contact with illegal immigrants (search), organizers said in the release.
"Our adversaries will take even the most benign event and try to develop it into an international incident," Simcox said. "We cannot allow any digression from our established policies and procedures."
Minuteman Project volunteers have said they're trying to draw attention to the problem of illegal immigration, but law enforcement officials and advocates for illegal immigrants have said they fear the project will lead to vigilante violence.
The Minuteman Project didn't identify the volunteer, but authorities had previously identified the man in the incident as Bryan Barton of San Diego.
Authorities said Barton and two other volunteers spotted the immigrant Wednesday along a highway about 10 miles north of the Mexican border.
On its Web site, the Minuteman Project said the volunteer believed the man was in distress from lack of food and fluids and gave him cereal and milk. He then posed for a picture next to him while holding up a T-shirt and gave him $20 as a federal agent arrived to take the man into custody.
The shirt read, "Bryan Barton caught an illegal alien and all I got was this lousy T-shirt."
The immigrant who complained he was held illegally remained in custody Friday.