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The ACLU said the group was a product of the Trump administration’s “vile racism” that “has emboldened white nationalists and fascists to flagrantly violate the law.”
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) branch of New Mexico warned Thursday that a small group of armed United States citizens was allegedly detaining migrants entering the country. The ACLU called upon state authorities to investigate the group and to take measures to stop their actions.
The group is called the United Constitutional Patriots (UCP), and their members claim to be mainly military veterans. The ACLU has described them as a "fascist militia organization" and that the group was a product of the Trump administration’s “vile racism” that “has emboldened white nationalists and fascists to flagrantly violate the law.”
The UCP members have been patrolling the U.S.-Mexico border near Sunland Park, New Mexico, since late February in search of undocumented border crossers.
They post near-daily videos showing members dressed in camouflage and armed with semi-automatic rifles holding groups of migrants until U.S. Border Patrol agents arrive, many of the detainees are Central American families seeking asylum.
The small far-right "volunteer"group says it is "helping" Border Patrol deal with a surge in undocumented migrants, but civil rights organizations have described them as “fascist," and as an organization that is operating outside the law.
On a March 27 visit to El Paso, Texas, near Sunland Park, then-U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said his agency, which runs U.S. Border Patrol, did not need the help of citizens to police the border.
“We are not asking for civil society groups to provide border security assistance,” said McAleenan, who was recently appointed acting secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
“We cannot allow racist and armed vigilantes to kidnap and detain people seeking asylum,” the ACLU said in a letter to New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and Attorney General Hector Balderas. “We urge you to immediately investigate this atrocious and unlawful conduct.”