The Hunted

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He pulls into a strip mall and parks in front of Kenner's Kolache Bakery in Arlington. Across the street, in the driveway of the RaceTrac gas station, 15 or so Latino men are gathered on the curb. They shift their weight and kick at the ground, fists jammed into the pockets of Adidas jackets and gray hoodies. A few smoke cigarettes. The sun is a red orb hovering above the horizon now.

"This is one of the most difficult places," Kirby says. "Our volunteers have their binoculars heading straight into the sun, but if we're gonna be here we're gonna have to tough it out."

Next to us, a couple in a Jeep watches through binoculars as a truck pulls up to the RaceTrac. Five workers jog up to the windows, no doubt asking what the job is and how much it pays. In front of Kirby's sedan, a 40ish accountant named Anne and a World War II veteran named Clyde stand on the sidewalk holding a banner that reads, "Doing a job our government won't do." A sign propped on the sidewalk says, "Illegal aliens are criminals, arrest them send them home." Nearby, a video camera rests on a tripod.

A few passing cars give friendly honks and waves, but a Hispanic man in the passenger seat of a white pickup yells, "Racists!"

Across the street, the workers are doing their best to ignore the Minutemen and their signs. Pedro Guerrero, who, like most of the workers, has heard of the group, scowls as he surveys the volunteers from beneath a brown baseball cap.

"If the Minutemen want to do my work, let them come and do it," he tells me in Spanish. The other workers laugh.

Julio Anderena, a gaunt Cuban with a mustache and spectacles, turns to face the Minutemen.

"Maricones!" he yells. Fags. Anderena has a green card, since Cubans who reach U.S. soil are automatically issued visas while most others from Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America can get them only if sponsored by relatives or employers, which can entail a 10- to 15-year wait. Most of the men waiting on the curb are Mexican. Anderena points to them.

"These people have the right to be here," he says angrily. "This country has gotten rich off their cheap labor."

At one point, a worker wearing jeans and a Pittsburgh Steelers hat crosses the street and exchanges words with a few of the Minuteman volunteers.

"If all of us leave, no one will be here," the laborer says. He is a bit unsteady on his feet, as if he'd been drinking. "Do you like Mexican food?" he asks. The volunteers nod. This satisfies the man, and he turns and crosses back to the other side of the street. "I know you love enchiladas!" he calls over his shoulder.

One of the Minutemen walks over to Kirby and repeats what the laborer said.

"That just shows their mentality," the volunteer says, indignant. "He's basically saying Mexico has already taken over Texas—whites are already the minority."

Jose Jimenez rushed out of the Garland apartment he shared with his wife and their 3-year-old daughter. It was his wife's birthday, September 16, and he wanted to buy her a bouquet of roses and a cake before work so they'd be ready for a celebratory dinner that evening. Jimenez, a stout man in his 40s whose cherubic face belies his age, had been doing carpentry, painting and demolition work since he and his wife came to Texas from Juarez four years ago. For a while he had a series of regular jobs that would last a month or longer.

But a few weeks earlier, he'd lost the last one. His wife was six months pregnant and diabetic, and she'd called him at work to say she was hemorrhaging again. He'd asked for permission to leave the job site early so he could take her to the hospital, where she was ordered on bed rest. The next day, Jimenez was fired. The contractor said he needed someone reliable.

In Mexico, Jimenez had managed the marketing department of a Juarez newspaper. He'd worn a suit, worked in an office. Now he was going to the Garland Day Labor Center every morning to wait for contractors. Today, after picking up the cake and flowers, he pulled into the center, a beige plank building with green trim, at the intersection of Garland and Saturn roads. Some 80 workers were already in line, and they were talking about a group of white people who were sitting in parked SUVs across the street next to the Fina station, peering at the workers through binoculars.

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Megan Feldman
Contact: Megan Feldman