“This country was built on three things: God, guns and guts.”
A Pro-Trump group of armed citizens have induced a panic among liberals and the media after videos surfaced this week in which they detained migrants near the U.S.-Mexico border.
The United Constitutional Patriots, who have been labeled “armed vigilantes” by the American Civil Liberties Union and a “right-wing militia group” by The New York Times, shared a live video to its Facebook page Tuesday showing a group of migrants before the arrival of United States Border Patrol.
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“We can send them over to Nancy Pelosi’s house,” a woman can be heard saying at one point during the 40-minute-long video.
According to CBS News, the United Constitutional Patriots, which was armed with firearms, detained nearly 300 people seeking to enter the United States near Sunland Park, New Mexico.
ABC-7 spoke with members of the group who said they are aware they are not permitted to illegally detain migrants. The group said its mission is to alert Border Patrol agents of illegal immigrants attempting to cross into the U.S.
“This country was built on three things: God, guns and guts. That American flag has to keep flying,” United Constitutional Patriots Commander John Horton told ABC-7. “It’s in danger, a lot of danger right now.”
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A spokesman for the United Constitutional Patriots told The New York Times that his group’s actions were akin to a legal “verbal citizen’s arrest.”
“We’re just here to support the Border Patrol and show the public the reality of the border,” Jim Benvie, the United Constitutional Patriots spokesman, said.
Benvie also said that Customs and Border Patrol has never asked his group to “stand down.”
In an interview with ABC-7, Benvie denied that his group had pointed its guns at migrants and said they were not forced to stay.
The group claimed in a Facebook post Friday that PayPal, the payment processing platform they’d been using to collect donations, had suspended their account and frozen the $1,300 in donations they’d received.
United Constitutional Patriot’s actions come amid increasing scrutiny over the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border. President Donald Trump and his administration have characterized the influx of migrants seeking to cross into the United States as a national crisis. This week, the border city of Yuma, Arizona declared a state of emergency over asylum seekers flooding into its limits.
The situation has fiercely divided conservatives and liberals along partisan lines. Many on the left accuse the president and hardline immigration activists of being motivated by bigotry and argue that humanitarian interests compel the nation to accommodate asylum seekers. On the other hand, conservatives are frustrated with what they see as an increasing national security risk, drain on American resources and a broad failure to enforce the rule of law.
“[W]e cannot allow racist and armed vigilantes to kidnap and detain people seeking asylum,” the ACLU said in a letter sent to New Mexico governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and Hector Balderas, the state’s attorney general.
The news has led to severe consternation among the left.
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“Trump has created an environment in which right-wing vigilante groups feel emboldened to point weapons at terrified women & children at the border,” tweeted Colin Kahl, former National Security Advisor to Vice President Joe Biden.
“Every day, because of Trump & the racist forces he has unleashed, we lose more & more of our national soul,” Kahl added.
A Twitter account for hacktivist collective Anonymous described United Constitutional Patriots as Trump-loyalist “terrorists” allied with “ICE and border patrol.”
A gang of fascist vigilantes made up of ex-cops and ex-military live-streamed themselves detaining 300 undocumented immigrants at gunpoint and then handing them over to border patrol https://t.co/xFkirbBDRr how are they allowed to do this??
— Rania Khalek (@RaniaKhalek) April 18, 2019
Former Vox writer Margarita Noriega said the situation was “vigilante chaos.”
Meanwhile, the reception to United Constitutional Patriot’s efforts was vastly different on the right:
That's what they're here for. A well regulated militia. 2nd ammendment Constitutional rights. ANTIFA are the racist thugs. Cowards that would never lay down their life to protect anyone. Keep up the good work #UnitedConstitutionalPatriots.
— Gary (@Gary33727443) April 19, 2019
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