(CNSNews.com) - The U.S. is engaged in "a silent war" conducted by illegal aliens that is causing a higher toll than the war in Iraq, according to the founder of an immigration watchdog group.
While the mainstream media is focused on the Iraq war, this ongoing silent war is "taking its toll in lives and domestic tranquility," said Jim Gilchrist, founder of the Minuteman Project.
"Since 9/11 alone, about 45,000 U.S. residents have been killed in action via homicide or manslaughter at the hands of illegal aliens, and about another quarter of a million to 300,000 have been wounded," Gilchrist told Cybercast News Service in an interview.
Gilchrist said he used the terms "killed in action" and "wounded" intentionally "because essentially, we have a war going on here that's not a declared war, that's not a conventional war, but it is costing us 9,000 lives a year."
That amounted to "about 15 times the rate of KIAs [soldiers killed in action] in Iraq," he said.
Gilchrist said the financial cost was also significant.
Welfare benefit programs used strictly by the illegal immigration population were costing "$400 billion a year - that's four times the annual cost of the war in Iraq," he argued.
Those funds were being spent on "a plethora of related welfare and benefit-type programs, including medication, education, housing, HUD subsidies, Social Security, all that stuff," Gilchrist said.
"Our coffers are being plundered by those who don't deserve them," he noted. "Those programs were earmarked for American citizens."
He said that figure did not include another half-trillion dollars lost each year "due to payroll and income tax fraud from the underground economy created by having 30 million illegal aliens in the United States."
Gilchrist conceded that not all illegal immigrants were working and that not all who are working were doing so "under the table."
"But a good portion of them are, and because they're staying under the radar, no one knows who they are, where they are or what their intentions are."
Estimates of the number of illegal aliens in the U.S. vary considerably, but the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) said the numbers cited by Gilchrist "sound about right."
On the costs to the U.S. economy of illegal immigration, the CIS estimates federal costs per year at only $10.6 billion but notes that the vast majority of costs are incurred at the local and state levels.
Crime statistics relating to illegal immigrants are hazy, but on his website, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) says that 12 homicides and 13 drunk driving deaths a day are attributed to illegal aliens.
In testimony before the House Judiciary Committee immigration subcommittee in 2005, Manhattan Institute Senior Fellow Heather Mac Donald said that in Los Angeles, 95 percent of all outstanding warrants for homicide and up to two-thirds of all fugitive felony warrants in the first half of the previous year targeted illegal aliens.
Representatives from the National Council of La Raza and the National Immigration Forum declined requests for comment on this article.
According to the Americas Project at the Center for American Progress, the U.S. is "making a futile attempt at using Border Patrol agents and physical barriers to regulate our labor market."
"This massive misapplication of resources fails to make us safer and will not be remedied through appeals to fear, symbolism or by throwing good money after bad," project director Dan Restrepo says on the center's website.
"A safer, modern immigration system must combine border and workplace enforcement with mechanisms to regulate future flows of immigrants into our country and allow the 12 million undocumented already here to emerge from the shadows," he added.
Gilchrist, a 56-year-old Marine veteran who received a Purple Heart for wounds sustained during the Vietnam War, founded the Minuteman Project in 2004 after "years of frustrated efforts trying to get a neglectful U.S. government to simply enforce existing immigration laws."
The Minuteman Project describes itself as a "citizens' vigilance operation." Its main activity is to monitor the flow of illegal immigrants across the U.S. border from Mexico, though the group also promotes proactive enforcement of the nation's immigration laws.
As Cybercast News Service previously reported, the group has been opposed by the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), which a year ago accused the group of being "racists" and "cowards."
Earlier this month, Brent Wilkes, national executive director of LULAC, told Cybercast News Service that the Minuteman Project consisted of "pretty crazy folks."
Gilchrist dismissed such accusations as "so ridiculous they hardly even merit a reply. If Wilkes would go to my website, he'd see that we're a multi-ethnic - and I repeat, a multi-ethnic - immigration law-enforcement advocacy group."
"My problem is not with legal immigrants. My grandparents were legal immigrants from Greece, Germany and England," he said, adding that charges of racism are "the last resort of a scoundrel losing an argument."
Still, Gilchrist said he sees a hopeful future regarding illegal immigration, in part because "the Minuteman Project is going to force debate on this issue."
"Immigration is still strong in the hearts and minds of Americans, because it goes right to the preservation of our sovereignty," Gilchrist added. "We just want to preserve a civilized society under the rule of law, under the First Amendment. That's the way the Founding Fathers set it up."
Gilchrist also noted another sign of the group's progress. "We've got a guy who wants to start a chapter up in Canada. He'll be the first non-American to be part of the Minuteman Project."
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