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Private militias patrolling US-Mexico border raise concerns

Published time: July 29, 2014 23:10
Reuters / Eric Thayer

Reuters / Eric Thayer

There are more than 10 independently operated private militia groups patrolling the border between Texas and Mexico, ignoring calls from Customs and Border Patrol to back off and inviting criticism from local lawmakers.

In a new report by the San Antonio Express-News, the newspaper obtained more than 30 photographs from unnamed members of the militia, showing numerous individuals sporting semi-automatic rifles, masks, camouflage and tactical gear.

The Express-News noted that “dozens of members” are depicted in the images, sometimes talking to agents from Customs and Border Patrol. In one photo, a CBP agent can be seen giving directions to armed militia members operating a vehicle.

Although the CBP has not commented on these recent images, last month it spoke out against those gathering around the border aiming to keep watch over immigrants attempting to cross the border. The agency said it does not “endorse or support any private group or organization from taking matters into their own hands, as it could have disastrous personal and public safety consequences.”

Texas Gov. Rick Perry also declined to address the situation, but Democratic State Senator Leticia Van de Putte condemned the new evidence, saying that “pointing guns at children solves nothing.”

“Local law enforcement and federal Border Patrol agents have been clear,” she added to the Express-News. “The presence of these outside independent militia groups does nothing to secure the border; it only creates an unsafe situation for law enforcement officials that are protecting our communities. Unfortunately, the vile rhetoric of my opponent inspires misguided efforts.”

The militias have described their plan to patrol the borders as a response to the massive spike in undocumented minors entering the American border illegally. As RT has reported, nearly 60,000 minors have crossed into the United States since last October, sparking calls from anti-immigrant groups for their deportation. Pro-immigrant supporters, meanwhile, have described the situation as a humanitarian crisis and that the US should shelter the kids while they’re in the country.

As the US government debates exactly how to address the situation, one militia “commander” named Chris Davis told the Express-News that any action to secure the border will be done in a “legal and lawful manner.”

Still, Davis – who was discharged from the Army in 2001 – has raised concern over militia activity, particularly in a 21-minute YouTube video posted last month. As reported by The Monitor, Davis explained how his team would handle immigrants attempting to cross the border:

“You see an illegal. You point your gun dead at him, right between his eyes, and you say, ‘Get back across the border or you will be shot,’” he said.

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