Armed Vigilantes Detain 300 Asylum-Seeking Migrants, Turn Them Over to Border Officials

(Screenshot / Facebook)

United Constitutional Patriots, an armed militia group that claims to be made up of veterans and former police officers, rounded up 300 asylum-seeking migrants in New Mexico and turned them over to border officials, the Daily Mail reports.

Facebook user Jim Benvie streamed a live video of the group on April 16, which shows a large group of migrants that includes young children being directed by members of the vigilante militia. A member of the militia told ABC-7 KVIA that U.S. Border Patrol asked the group to go to the U.S.-Mexico border in New Mexico, although a U.S. Border Patrol spokesperson told the news station that he didn’t believe the militia member’s claim to be true. Daily Mail reports that the group has been stationed on the New Mexico-Chihuahua border for months, where they say they will remain stationed until President Trump builds his long-promised U.S.-Mexico border wall.

The Southern Poverty Law Center described United Constitutional Patriots leader Larry Mitchell Hopkins to be “all-in on conspiracy theories” regarding migrant caravans headed toward the southern border–theories that have been amplified by Trump.

Benvie, also appears to have far-fetched thoughts about migrant caravans of asylum seekers. In the video he streamed to Facebook, he uses extreme anti-immigrant rhetoric about the United States being “invaded” by migrants.

“With no barrier, this is how they bum-rush the border. This is how you get invaded,” Benvie says in the video. He added, “I promise you, if these people were armed and started shooting at us, a lot more people would take this more seriously and they’d call it an invasion. Unfortunately, because of the fact that they’re not armed and they’re coming in and invading us, it’s not an ‘invasion.’”

ThinkProgress reports that the militia movement has suffered an identity crisis since Trump took office. Anti-Defamation League senior researcher Mark Pitcavage told ThinkProgress, “For the first time in its 25-year history, the militia movement had a presidential candidate that they love.” But numerous armed militia groups turned their sights to the southern border after Trump warned that migrant caravans threaten the national security of United States.