In the lead-up to the 2018 midterm elections, Donald Trump stoked racist and xenophobic fears over a migrant “caravan” of desperate people fleeing to safety from the poverty and violence they faced in their home countries south of the border. When Trump deployed U.S. troops to stop them, military officials issued a report saying that the most dangerous threat they could assess from the situation was that of armed citizen militias eager to confront migrants in the name of “patriotism.”
An armed pro-Trump militia in New Mexico appears to be detaining migrants at the border and working with Border Patrol agents to coordinate their arrests. ACLU says these are kidnappings by vigilantes: https://t.co/gjGyvsGaV2
— Sam Levin (@SamTLevin) April 18, 2019
Reporting from the U.S. Mexico border shows that these militia groups are currently confronting migrant asylum seekers, detaining them, and even presenting themselves as border officials to their captives. One of the men leading these groups, Larry Mitchell Hopkins, has a felony arrest on his record for impersonating border officials and, says that he has spoken with President Trump personally to discuss “Muslim immigrants” coming through the southern border.
When contacted by reporters over video of these armed militias detaining families with children, which they have proudly posted on social media, New Mexico Governor Michelle Luhan Grisham said in response that:
‘Our office is coordinating with the Attorney General’s office to verify what exactly happened regarding this group. If migrant families feel menaced or threatened at all when they arrive at our border, that’s completely unacceptable, and it should go without saying that regular citizens have no authority to arrest or detain anyone.’
Footage of a border militia detaining migrants is going viral this week. The group's founder pushes anti-immigrant conspiracy theories and has an arrest for impersonating an officer. They say they're working with Border Patrol: https://t.co/vm6gi1a8GQ
— Kelly Weill (@KELLYWEILL) April 19, 2019
However, efforts to stop these groups, who pose a danger to migrants and citizens alike with their racist zeal and military-style weaponry, is not evident. In fact, the men can be seen on video interacting with border officials to turn over the migrants they’ve detained.
Customs and Border Patrol officials stated that:
‘U.S. Customs and Border Protection does not endorse private groups or organizations taking enforcement matters into their own hands. Interference by civilians in law enforcement matters could have public safety and legal consequences for all parties involved.’
Featured image screenshot via YouTube