State Rep. Jeff Kropf flew his private plane to Arizona over the weekend to help patrol the border against illegal immigrants.
From his destination this morning, he said he spent 10½ hours in the air in his Cessna 150 Sunday, dodging storms down the coast and then hitting more bad weather on his way inland from San Francisco.
This morning he planned to drive a rental car to the Arizona ranch where the "Minutemen" were keeping an eye out for illegal immigrants.
The Minutemen is a private organization that is checking the borders because it says the government is not doing the job. Kropf paid a $50 fee, underwent a background check and now is a member of the group.
For four or five hours a day, Kropf said, he along with a spotter will fly over a private ranch halfway between Tucson and the border to check for immmigrants who crossed illegally. He hoped to report any sightings so that they would be arrested.
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"I'm doing this because I believe strongly and passionately that if the government is not going to do its duty, then it's up to Americans like me and thousands of other Minutemen to secure that border," he said.
Kropf has been a legislator since 1999. He is running for re-election to what he says will be his last two-year term. His House District 17 encompasses most of east Linn County including the cities of Lebanon and Sweet Home.
Running for the Democratic nomination to challenge Kropf is Dan Thackaberry, a Lebanon farmer. He could not be reached this morning for a comment on Kropf's Arizona venture.
Kropf works weekends as a radio commentator in Portland, sitting in for Lars Larson, the conservative talk show host. He said he planned to call Larson for daily updates on the migrant-spotting venture and intended to do his radio show next weekend by phone from Arizona.
In the 2007 legislative session, Kropf plans to introduce several bills dealing with issues related to illegal immigration.He said he hoped to gather experience in Arizona to help him understand the issue better.
He planned to be there eight days, flying every day.
According to Kropf, the Minutemen told him that because of talk in Congress of some kind of amnesty, people were flooding across the border, including 400 who were seen crossing one ranch on Saturday alone.