Members of civilian militia groups are planning to take up arms and step up to stop a migrant caravan from crossing the border into the U.S.
That’s according to U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), which warned Texas landowners this week about “possible armed civilians” who may come on to their properties because of the caravan, The Associated Press (AP) reported.
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Warnings like this are precautionary, and aimed at notifying Texas residents about who to talk to should anyone trespass on their properties, the CBP told Gizmodo Media Group.
But militias nevertheless remain a concern as the caravan and others like it approach the U.S. border — and as U.S. President Donald Trump dials up his rhetoric around immigration ahead of the midterm elections on Nov. 6.
AP reported that militias plan on bringing weapons and bulletproof vests to help CBP keep migrants from entering the U.S.
“They’re just laughing in our face,” Shannon McGauley, president of the Texas Minutemen militia, told the wire service.
He said the organization has stationed people at three points along the Texas-Mexico border and is likely to add as many as 100 more people.
Meanwhile other militias, if not overtly announcing plans to take up arms and help secure the southern border, are extolling support for plans to use the military to keep migrants from crossing over.
Such a call came from the Oath Keepers, an organization that sent militants to defend white-owned businesses amid violent protests in Ferguson, Mo. in 2015, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).
On Monday, the Oath Keepers issued a news release that called on Trump to secure the U.S.-Mexican border with combat troops in the face of the migrant caravan.
“Specifically, we ask President Trump to deploy active duty infantry from both the U.S. Army and Marine Corps; mechanized infantry, such as the 82nd Airborne, 10th Mountain Division, or USMC FAST Companies; air-mobile light infantry, such as the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault); and our larger special warfare units, such as the 75th Ranger Regiment,” the release said.
In calling for this protection, the Oath Keepers said this force is needed to protect the border against the “specific mass caravans of illegals, including MS-13 gang members and criminals from the Middle East.”
There is, however, no known evidence to suggest there are Middle Easterners among the caravans — President Trump himself admitted as much last week, after asserting that there were.
Trump has, however, said he may send as many as 15,000 troops “on top of Border Patrol, ICE and everybody else at the border.”
The National Guard has 2,100 at the border, and over 5,000 more active duty troops could station there.
READ MORE: Trump said there were ‘Middle Easterners’ in a migrant caravan. Now he says there’s ‘no proof’
Just because militia groups plan on operating close to the border, doesn’t mean the people living there like it.
One town, Arivaca, Ari., which is not far from the border with Mexico, has seen residents put up signs warning militia members that they’re not welcome, CBS 5 reported.
“I want everybody to be aware that we do not want the militias,” said resident Clara Godfrey.
“These people are coming into our community. They’re posting all kinds of falsehood.”
Arivaca is the town where, in 2009, three people connected to militias burst into a home and killed Raul Flores, who they believed was smuggling drugs, as well as his nine-year-old daughter.
Two of the trio who burst in are now up for the death penalty, while the third received a life sentence in the killings.
“A family was destroyed because of something they heard somewhere,” Godfrey said.
She’s now worried something like that could happen again with militias descending on the area.
Migrant caravans clearly aren’t the only approaching concern for people in border towns.
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