Mexico warns of 'deep concern' over armed groups on USA border

ARIS MESSINIS  AFP  Getty Images

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Mexico says "armed vigilantes" are detaining migrants near the U.S. -Mexico border and is calling on officials to launch a probe into the group it calls a "fascist militia".

A spokesman for New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said state and local authorities are looking into the matter.

The video, recorded by group member Jim Benvie on 16 April, shows a large group of migrants who were said to have just crossed the border near Sunland Park, New Mexico, being detained by the armed vigilantes.

"We can not allow racist and armed vigilantes to kidnap and detain people seeking asylum", the ACLU wrote in a letter to state officials.

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The group, United Constitutional Patriots, has uploaded videos of their actions this week, including a video of members detaining at least a hundred migrants from Guatemala before Border Patrol arrives on scene.

Meanwhile, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents in New Mexico apprehended almost 2,000 migrants in just one day.

"This is a unsafe felon who should not have weapons around children and families", New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas stated.

Larry Mitchell Hopkins, who runs the United Constitutional Patriots (UCP) was arrested on Saturday on charges of possessing firearms and ammunition as a convicted felon, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said. The militia members say they will patrol the border near Mt. Christo Rey, "Until the wall is built". Their tactics, however, triggered a massive backlash as they were seen chasing down suspected illegals and holding them at gunpoint before surrendering them to United States authorities. "That migrant families might be menaced or threatened in any way, shape or form is completely unacceptable".

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The incident comes amid a spike in border crossings, despite White House efforts to stem the influx.

"Border Patrol has never asked us to stand down", said Mr Benvie, who is visiting the region from his home state of Minnesota.

"We concede that these groups have a freedom to associate, to assemble, freedom to speech and our state gun laws do give them ability to carry weapons", Simonson said.

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