As recently reported by CNN, the immigration situation at the southern border has the potential to turn violent quickly. Attorney General Hector Balderas issued a written statement that a fairly organized militia group has detained more than 100 immigrants at the U.S.-Mexico border. The militia group refers to itself as the United Constitutional Patriots and vows to fight against the entry of undocumented immigrants into the U.S. The group is not affiliated with any state, local or federal law enforcement organization and appears to be operating under the umbrella of vigilante justice.
An observer took a video of the recent incident in which the militia group members attempted to prevent immigrants seeking asylum in crossing the border. What is unusual about this incident is that it was actually caught on camera because these types of anti-immigrant militia groups usually operate under the radar. The members dress in military gear and often obstruct their face while carrying weapons. The video shows men ordering the immigrants to stop and sit down while they contact actual Border Control to come arrest the immigrants. U.S. Customs and Border Patrol has issued an official statement that they do not coordinate in any official capacity with the militant group, although members of the group do frequently contact Border Patrol to respond to situations involving detained immigrants.
The American Civil Liberties Union has spoken out against the United Constitutional Patriots and has argued that this group violates the constitutional rights of immigrants seeking asylum in the U.S. They also contend that it is actually a crime for members of the United Constitutional Patriots to pose as Border Patrol agents and detain any immigrants without proper authority from federal law enforcement agencies. In addition, they have condemned U.S. Customs and Border Patrol for not taking a stronger stance against groups like the United Constitutional Patriots in preventing them from posing as law enforcement officials or obstructing access across the border for immigrants seeking asylum.
While no one appears to be hurt in the video posted online of the most recent incident involving members of the United Constitutional Patriots, civil rights activists are concerned that these types of situations have the potential to turn violent quickly. Even though the immigrants may not be armed, the members of the United Constitutional Patriots and other groups like them do not necessarily have the training or wherewithal to remain calm in tense situations.