Armed Militias Massing at Border to 'Protect' America From Small Children
Photo Credit: Vladyslav Starozhylov/Shutterstock
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Militia groups are starting to line the border between Texas and Mexico to protect the region from an influx of refugee children, despite warnings from state lawmakers and U.S. Customs and Border Protection to stand down.
The militias have provided dozens of pictures to the media of their members “guarding” the border while carrying what appear to be semi-automatic rifles. The members in the photos are wearing tactical gear and military-style balaclavas that shield their identities (other photos show militia members with their faces blurred out).
Reportedly, 10 or more militias have descended on the border while child refugees from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala continue to make the long trek and crossing to the United States. So far, an estimated 50,000 unaccompanied children have crossed the border.
The invasion of children has inspired groups such as The Oathkeepers, Three Percenters, and Patriots to rally their members to the border. They are reportedly lining the border between El Paso and The Rio Grande.
Texas State Senator Leticia Van de Putte has condemned the actions of militia groups, criticizing them for "pointing guns at children.”
Van de Putte, a San Antonio Democrat who is running for Lieutenant Governor, said, “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."
Van de Putte was criticizing statements by State Senator Dan Patrick, a Houston Republican, who is also running for lieutenant governor. Patrick has declared the children to be a “safety threat” and says gang members and potential terrorists could exploit the porous border.
In a statement released yesterday, Texas Democrats called on Patrick and Attorney General Greg Abbott — the GOP gubernatorial nominee — to denounce the "armed vigilantes." Abbott and Patrick have yet to respond.
The Southern Poverty Law Center is warning that militias that rallied behind scofflaw rancher Cliven Bundy this Spring may also be focusing on the immigrant-child crisis as it intensifies. Mark Potok, a senior fellow at SPLC, says it’s “possible that people at the Bundy ranch are headed toward the Texas border now."
Potok says that militias are now posting online messages urging their followers to deploy in response to the crisis. "We don’t know if these calls to go to the border are going to get much response at all,” he told the Los Angeles Times. “It’s very unclear if this is just talk or actually developing.”
One militia, led by a 37-year-old truck driver named Chris Davis, began to deploy along the border earlier this month. Davis was seen in a YouTube video advising followers to aggressively confront those attempting a border crossing.
"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,'" Davis says in the video that was posted on his channel.
The video has reportedly been removed after a McAllen, Texas newspaper highlighted it earlier this month. Davis is now claiming that his militia, Secure Our Border, only intends to supplement law-enforcement efforts along the border despite law enforcement officials in Texas saying their help is not needed in the Rio Grande Valley.
“There’s nothing malicious, there’s no malicious intent—every person is vetted,” Davis told The Los Angeles Times. “We’re just here to serve freedom, liberty and national sovereignty.”
Davis was discharged from the U.S. Army in 2001 under less-than-honorable conditions to avoid court-martial proceedings, according to the San Antonio Express-News.