The United States Border Patrol warned people who own land along the U.S.-Mexico border of “possible armed civilians” arriving in the area as militia groups have started deploying and are planning to send more members ahead of the migrant caravan’s arrival.
The U.S. Border Patrol in late October warned local landowners in Texas that it expects “possible armed civilians” to come onto their property because of the caravans, which now include thousands of people each.
Three militia organizers said they were either going to the border themselves or organizing others and groups on Facebook have posted warnings about the approaching caravans.
One said it was “imperative that we have boots on the ground.” Another wrote: “WAR! SECURE THE BORDER NOW!”
The militia members said they plan to bring guns and equipment such as bulletproof vests and lend a hand to the Border Patrol to protect against people unlawfully entering the country.
“They’re just laughing in our face,” said Shannon McGauley, president of the Texas Minutemen. “It’s a free-for-all in America.”
McGauley said he already has members at three points of the state’s border with Mexico and expects to add 25 to 100 more people in the coming days.
He describes the group on its Facebook page as helping protect the nation’s borders.
Monica Marin, an Oregon resident who said she has raised about $4,000 online to help militias buy supplies, noted that the bulk of the caravans are young men.
“I see young, fighting-age men who do not look like they’re starving. They look like they’re ready to fight,” Marin said. Approximately 75 percent of the first two caravans are men.
Video footage showed migrants lobbing Molotov cocktails and rocks, beating police officers with sticks, and ripping down border barriers. The caravans’ violence has left Guatemalan and Mexican police officers injured, while Mexican police recently deported two known criminals found inside the caravan back to Honduras.
Border watch groups and militias have been patrolling the 2,000-mile southern boundary off and on for more than a decade. Typically, the groups watch for people illegally crossing into the Unted States. When they spot crossers, they contact the Border Patrol. The militia plans come as U.S. officials ordered thousands of troops to the border.
Not everyone is pleased the militias plan to deploy to the border ahead of the caravans, though. “I want everybody to be aware that we do not want the militias,” Clara Godfrey, who owns land in Arivaca near the border, told 3 TV.
In the town in 2009, thee people with ties to the militia movement broke into a house and murdered a nine-year-old and her father. They believed that the man was a drug smuggler. All three are serving sentences and two are on death row.
Other community members in the town, though, told the broadcaster that they don’t mind militias and similar groups being in and around the area.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.