Minutemen in action once again.

Starting Friday, leaders of the Minuteman Project, a self-proclaimed neighborhood watch group, will spread more than 1,000 volunteers along the Arizona border in an effort to report suspected illegal aliens to the Border Patrol.

In response to the Minuteman Project, President Bush said last week, “I am against vigilantes in the United States of America. I am for enforcing law in a rational way.”

But there’s a reason these so-called vigilantes exist: The federal government refuses to address seriously the increasingly important issues of border security and illegal immigration.

There’s tremendous irony in the president’s declaration that it’s the Border Patrol’s job to enforce laws in a rational way. In his budget, the president provided for 210 additional Border Patrol agents this year, when it’s been mandated that 2,000 were needed.

In a news briefing this week, White House press secretary Scott McClellan also expressed concern about the Minuteman Project, saying, “We don’t want people operating outside the law. The president made that very clear last week.”

More irony from the administration: We don’t want concerned Americans operating outside the law in response, yet we have no problem allowing millions of noncitizens to cross our borders illegally every year.

If the president wants to enforce the law in a rational way, he might start by enforcing the laws already on the books. Until Bush can find it in his budget to send the appropriate number of Border Patrol agents requested by Congress, concerned private citizens and state governments will continue to take action.

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