Right-wing groups such as Oathkeepers, Three Percenters and Patriots are reported to have set up camps in the Texas desert in reaction to a wave of child immigrants from Central America. The groups are reportedly conducting military operations and going on daily hunts for “illegals.” It is also reported that the Minutemen Project has begun recruiting volunteers to “guard” the US southern border.
While these groups are small in number, they are capable of causing great harm and danger to those who are taking the perilous journey to cross the US-Mexico border in the hopes of seeking a better life in the US. They are equipped with semi-automatic weapons, camouflage and advanced tactical gear, and have a history of violence.
The appearance of these groups is part of a campaign by both Democrats and Republicans aimed at victimizing immigrants and promoting chauvinism, while militarizing the border. Just last week, Texas Governor Rick Perry ordered the deployment of 1,000 National Guard troops along the border until an additional 3,000 border patrol agents can be permanently hired and deployed.
Deployment of drones and National Guard troops has been welcomed from the Democratic Party. Obama has said that he has no “philosophical objections” to the deployment of the National Guard and has supported the expanded use of drones.
In a press conference yesterday, Obama attacked the Republicans for failing to pass an immigration reform bill that was passed in the Senate, a bill that will effectively militarize the border and make it easier to deport children. During the speech, Obama implied that he may be forced to use his executive authority. “I’m going to have to act alone, because we don’t have enough resources.” The only difference between the Democrats and Republicans is that of a tactical nature; they both agree that the only solution is a military one.
Texas Democrat State Senator Leticia Van de Putte criticized the vigilante groups, stating that “pointing guns at children solves nothing.” Yet, that is exactly what the Democrats hope to achieve, a surge of militarization along the southern border.
She further added, “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.”
Although the right-wing vigilante groups officially claim that their only role is to give additional support to Border Patrol agents about possible drug cartels that are smuggling illegal drugs, they are in fact serving as an auxiliary force of the US state—that is, seeking to take “law and order” into their own hands.
In a YouTube video that was recently taken down, Chris Davis, commander of the Patriot’s border operation, described the tactics that are being used by his group to detain immigrants. “How?” Davis asks, “You see an illegal. You point your gun right at him, right between his eyes and say, ‘Get back across the border or you will be shot.’”
Parris Frazier, leader of Whiskey Bravo, one several vigilante groups, told VICE News that he is frequently stopped by CBP and allowed to continue on his way.
They have also called for further measures to militarize the border. Barbie Rogers, founder of the Patriots Information Hotline, urged Perry to send an additional 5,000 National Guard troops, and that “if cost is an issue” the governor should “call the militia. They will come if you call them.”