Minutemen Settle Adopt-a-Highway Suit

Group's leader Jeff Schwilk says Caltrans will pay out $156K

A lawsuit alleging that state officials conspired to prevent an anti-illegal immigration group from participating in the state's Adopt-a-Highway program was settled, a court document states.

The parties reached an agreement Monday during a four-hour meeting.

"We've been trying to settle for over a year," Jeff Schwilk, founder of the San Diego Minutemen, told the North County Times on Wednesday. "For some reason on Monday they came in and wanted to play."

Schwilk told the paper that his group will continue to participate in the highway cleanup program. A courtesy sign bearing its name will remain in place, and the group will adopt another stretch of road nearby, Schwilk said.

The Minutemen will also get $157,500, Schwilk said.

A California Department of Transportation spokesman declined to comment.

There is no legal way to ban the controversial anti-immigration group Minutemen from participating in California's Adopt-a-Highway
program without shutting it down completely, state Transportation Department chief Will Kempton has said in the past.

The Adopt-a-Highway program allows volunteers to pick up roadside trash and get a road sign with their name on it in return.

Back in February 2008, the Minutemen sued Caltrans after the agency revoked its permit to pick up trash along a 2-mile section of Interstate 5 that includes a major U.S. Border Patrol immigration checkpoint near San Clemente.

Immigrants rights groups objected to the Minutemen's presence there and Caltrans officials said they feared vandalism or confrontations, according to the North County Times.

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