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Minutemen to Fight Being Assigned New Adopted Highway Stretch

An anti-immigration group says it will fight the state transportation department's decision to relocate their Adopt-A-Highway site away from a busy Border Patrol checkpoint to a less-traveled stretch

An anti-immigration group says it will fight the state transportation department's decision to relocate their Adopt-A-Highway site away from a busy Border Patrol checkpoint to a less-traveled stretch of roadway.

Early Wednesday, the San Diego Minutemen's Web site said the group was soliciting donations for a legal fund so they can sue the state over Monday's order to move their highway cleanup site from a two-mile stretch of Interstate 5, California's major north-south highway, to an area on State Road 52.

The group's leader, Jeff Schwilk, said that they were "dumbfounded" by the decision.

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"There is absolutely no reason to fear that our occasional litter removal details would be anything other than orderly, law-abiding and completely safe," Schwilk said Tuesday.

In addition to moving the Minutemen's cleanup site, the California Department of Transportation said it was reconsidering whether the group was eligible for any piece of highway.

"The fear is that you throw a litter group into the fold that is openly passionate about a social issue, and it raises the risk of cars slowing down or stopping to yell encouragement or opposition, additional people near the roadway possibly protesting," Caltrans spokesman Steve Saville said.

In November, Caltrans granted a permit for the Minutemen to tend to trash on a two-mile northbound stretch of Interstate 5 north of San Diego, near where Border Patrol agents stop motorists and search for illegal immigrants hiding in cars. Adopt-A-Highway signs were emblazoned with the group's name.

Howard Kaloogian, the Minutemen's attorney and a former state assemblyman, said he would fight Caltrans' order in federal court.

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"I think that they have made a bad decision, which violated our clients' equal rights," Kaloogian said.

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