NBC News - April 22, 2019
It speaks volumes about today’s political climate that anti-immigrant domestic terrorists have begun calling themselves border militias, holding unarmed people at gunpoint and feeling so emboldened that they post videos of their activities on social media, including Facebook and YouTube.
Luckily, the hubris of at least one group didn't impress law enforcement: On Saturday, the New Mexico attorney general’s office announced that Larry Hopkins, the leader of the United Constitutional Patriots (which had been detaining migrants at gunpoint near the U.S.-Mexico border) had been arrested by the FBI and charged with felony possession of firearms and ammunition
The efforts of groups like the UCP are disturbing on every level and raise serious legal, humanitarian and public safety concerns.
So-called "militia" groups have long been active along the southern border: In the 1970s, for instance, the Ku Klux Klan announced that it was creating its own border patrol to combat illegal immigration. In the 2000s, the Minutemen patrolled the border in Arizona. In 2009, Brisenia Flores was shot and killed in her own home in Arizona by members of a border vigilante group called Minuteman American Defense; she was just nine years-old and an American citizen.
Last year, Newsweek obtained leaked Department of Defense documents warning of the threat of armed, unregulated militia groups operating in between ports of entry along the border. The Department estimated that there were about 200 members of militia groups along the southwest border. And, the rise in anti-immigrant rhetoric and calls to build a wall to stem a supposed "invasion" has indeed been accompanied by a rise in militia activity.
It is ironic that a group with “constitutional” in their name is so unaware — or defiant — of the law and the constitution. Only trained law enforcement officials, like the Border Patrol and ICE, have the authority to detain migrants. But last week, Hopkins' group posted videos purporting to show their members identifying themselves as "Border Patrol" and holding immigrants at gunpoint. One member told Reuters that they had "helped" Border Patrol detain 5,600 migrants in the last two months. ...
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