Vigilantes with guns. Heavily armed white militias. This could be the scene at the United States’ border with Mexico very shortly as groups of civilians are answering President Donald Trump’s call to arms. They are going to fight against the “invasion” of poor refugees that they’ve been told is coming.
They have heard the warnings from the president and from Fox News. that caravans of Central American migrants moving through Mexico pose a massive threat to American security.
And they want to do something about it. They want to “help” the situation.
So they have packed up their camping gear and weapons and stocked up on provisions and tanks of water. They even have aerial drones to allow them to keep a better eye on remote parts of the Mexican border.
In fact, they are now forming their own caravans and will be following actual American military troops to the border areas where they believe the invasion will occur.
Shannon McGauley, president of the Texas Minutemen, told The Washington Post that he is making preparations now so he can head to the border in a few days.
“We’ll observe and report, and offer aid in any way we can,” McGauley said. “We’ve proved ourselves before, and we’ll prove ourselves again.”
McGauley and other Minutemen have been inspired by Trump’s call to restore order and defend the country. He believes Trump when he said there is going to be “an invasion” of thousands of Central American migrants.
The invading force of poor refugees, including many women and children (all of whom are unarmed) has been advancing slowly through southern Mexico. It’s not clear when (or even if) they will reach the Rio Grande River where McGauley and his men will be setting up camp.
McGauley said he probably has over 100 volunteers coming to defend the Rio Grande.
“I can’t put a number on it,” he said. “My phone’s been ringing nonstop for the last seven days. You got other militias, and husbands and wives, people coming from Oregon, Indiana. We’ve even got two from Canada.”
When The Post asked if his group would be using weapons against the migrants, McGauley laughed and said, “This is Texas, man.”
U.S. military planners have issued warnings to Army commanders who have been told to watch out for the armed civilians.
Armed vigilantes showing up beside thousands of U.S. troops, Border Patrol agents, police officers and migrants could make a tense situation even worse. It may even result in unwanted and unnecessary violence.
Military officials have been expressing their concerns about what they call “the arrival of unregulated militia members self-deploying to the border in alleged support of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.”
They believe that as many as 200 militia members could show up and get in the way of regular military and law enforcement operations.
“They operate under the guise of citizen patrols,” a military report said. And there have been several “incidents of unregulated militias stealing National Guard equipment during deployments.”
Manuel Padilla Jr., the top Border Patrol officer in the region, has not yet given any new orders to his agents in the field.
“We don’t have any specific information about the militias,” Padilla said.
“We have seen them in the past, and when things start getting really busy, we have to make sure to let the community know they’re out there.”
“But they’re doing that on their own,” he added.
McGauley said that the Militiamen plan to report suspicious activity to the proper authorities. But landowners in the area said they do not want the militias around.
One such local resident, Michael Vickers, said that he will not let militia members from outside the area onto his property. He also said that he and other area landowners don’t trust the outsiders.
“They are a bunch of guys with a big mouth and no substance to them,” said Vickers.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.