Militia groups have taken it upon themselves to do the work of the Border Patrol. For decades unauthorized private militia groups have gone on to search undocumented people at the border to detain them. But the problem with that kind of civilian work is that it’s illegal and it’s not actually their job. Last week they were caught holding undocumented people once again. A group known as the United Constitutional Patriots rounded up an estimated 300 undocumented people at the border in New Mexico and turned them into Border Patrol agents.
While some may consider this a good deed by everyday people, or protecting U.S. citizens, they are not trained or authorized law enforcement and behaving as such is wrong and terrifying for the people they are apprehending. A video shared on Facebook showed several undocumented people held at gunpoint by these so-called patriots.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) called the detainments kidnapping and blamed President Donald Trump.
“We cannot allow racist and armed vigilantes to kidnap and detain people seeking asylum,” the ACLU stated in a letter which demanded authorities and the governor of New Mexico to investigate the group. “We urge you to immediately investigate this atrocious and unlawful conduct.” The ACLU added on Twitter that “The Trump administration has emboldened white nationalists to flagrantly violate the law.”
Yesterday, the FBI arrested a leader of the United Constitutional Patriots. In a statement, New Mexico’s attorney general, Hector Balderas said, “This is a dangerous felon who should not have weapons around children and families,” and added “The arrest by the FBI indicates clearly that the rule of law should be in the hand of trained law enforcement officials, not armed vigilantes.”
.@CBP as an agency may not condone or endorse border vigilantes but as Buzzfeed's @aflores and @SalHernandez noted in their article today, some #BorderPatrol agents on the ground certainly do and the UCP militias are capitalizing off that https://t.co/PhMW0M7LAE pic.twitter.com/PqpzZdfRgO
— Michel Marizco (@BorderReporter) April 20, 2019
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said they are also investigating the practices of the United Constitutional Patriots because it is clear that this is not the first time they have detained undocumented people.
“They have absolutely not been authorized by our office or any other. We are actively working with the AG’s Office, state police and local police to determine what has gone on and what can and will be done,” Tripp Stelnicki, a spokesman for the governor, said according to CNN. “That migrant families might be menaced or threatened in any way, shape or form is completely unacceptable.”
BuzzFeed News also reports that several of the groups crowd fundraising accounts have been taken down because of their illegal acts. Members of the United Constitutional Patriots say they need to find other ways to raise money for their organization.
Hopefully, with the arrest of their leader, these militia groups will stop their illegal work, but something tells us they probably won’t.