FBI Makes Arrest After Right-Wing Group Films Itself Kidnapping Asylum Seekers

Last fall President Donald Trump and his supporters were in hysterics over the so-called “migrant caravan” that was headed toward the U.S.-Mexico border. Even though this was a gross misrepresentation of what was actually happening, Trump successfully whipped many into a frenzy over what he characterized as an “invasion” — to the point that self-styled right-wing militias took it upon themselves to head to the border to play vigilante.

At the time, several of us at Care2 expressed concern over what this would lead to — would armed members of these militias find themselves in confrontation with local landowners, law enforcement or the military? Would these people violate migrants’ civil rights or even end up killing some of them?

As it turns out, these concerns were warranted. This month, videos began circulating online apparently depicting one of these militia groups — the United Constitutional Patriots – accosting a group of migrants while identifying themselves as border control. Hundreds of people were held at gunpoint while members of the militia waited for border agents to arrive.

According to the ACLU, nearly 300 people were kidnapped by members of the United Constitutional Patriots during the Facebook livestream recorded near Sunland Park, New Mexico. In the video, a number of people can be seen being held at gunpoint — including many children.

Since the United Constitutional Patriots first began to mobilize in New Mexico in November, the group claims that roughly 3,000 people have been detained. It also appears that U.S. Border and Customs Protection has been coordinating with the militia, at least in some cases, raising serious concerns from the ACLU and others.

Previously, the ACLU has characterized the United Constitutional Patriots as an “armed fascist organization” that routinely makes illegal arrests.

In response to these and other reported armed kidnappings, the FBI issued a warrant for the arrest of the group’s leader, Larry Mitchell Hopkins, and took him into custody on April 27. Though Hopkins has yet to be charged for kidnapping or intimidation, New Mexico’s attorney general, Hector Balderas, says he is facing felony firearm possession charges and “is a dangerous felon who should not have weapons around children and families.”

The FBI is expected to investigate Hopkins and the United Constitutional Patriots further, and they may bring additional charges.

In the wake of backlash over the militia’s kidnappings, both GoFundMe and PayPal banned online donations made to the group and its members. Speaking to Buzzfeed, a senior member of the right-wing militia says this has “killed us” and will require them to seek alternative means of raising funds.

Though U.S. Customs and Border Protection says vigilante groups should refrain from interfering with law enforcement and border patrol, they welcome citizens reporting illegal activity. This, however, is a rather impotent condemnation of groups like the United Constitutional Patriots — dangerous, armed militants playing army at the expense of hundreds of people’s human rights.

How long before a member of one of these militia groups kills a migrant? Will the Trump administration and Border Patrol continue to encourage this kind of reckless behavior until the worst has happened?

Photo Credit: Daily Chalkupy/Flickr

88 comments

Ganaisha Calvin
Ganaisha C23 hours ago

without video who knows what would have happened

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Richard B
Richard B4 days ago

Thank you for posting

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danii p
danii p8 days ago

thanks for sharing

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danii p
danii p8 days ago

thanks for sharing

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danii p
danii p8 days ago

thanks for sharing

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Chad Anderson
Chad Anderson9 days ago

Thank you.

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Susanne R
Susanne R16 days ago

Janis K. - Migrants ARE homeless people! They left their homes to protect their children and themselves. In case you haven't noticed, the way these "homeless" migrants have been treated has created a crisis. Children have been separated from their parents. In many cases, no records were kept of where they were sent, making it difficult -if not impossible- to reunite them. I don't have to mention that people are being kept in cages and that vigilante groups are terrorizing many of them. Three children have died and thousands of women and children have been sexually abused while in U.S. government custody.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2019/02/26/thousands-migrant-children-report-sexual-assaults-us-custody-border-detain/2988884002/

Unfortunately, conservatives don't care about the homeless OR the migrants seeking refuge in this country. They can't even see that they're in the same category because they resent both. And it is not illegal for migrants to seek asylum in this country. They way they are being treated is absolutely inhumane and, in some cases, illegal.

They care about themselves and whatever increases their bottom line. Innocent, helpless people who are suffering should all be helped, regardless of their circumstances. There's no need to compare the two.

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janis keller
janis keller16 days ago

Why is it that liberals care more about illegals than homeless citizens in the US? I think your priorities are not on straight.

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Annabel Bedini
Annabel Bedini17 days ago

Susanne R
Yes, the Second Amendment has a lot to answer for! Thanks for spelling it all out so clearly.

And thanks for the compliments! I would say the same about you and I bet we both of us think of ourselves as rather ordinary people with no particular virtues beyond wishing the world were a kinder and more reasonable place. I really like the thought that you are involved with your grandchildren, means with any luck another generation is growing up with some decent values!
You too have a blessed weekend!

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Susanne R
Susanne R17 days ago

Annabel B. - (Continued...)

Annabel, if you are as kind, pleasant, thoughtful and reasonable as you come across in your comments, you must be a remarkable person. I'm guessing you are. It's always such a pleasure to interact with you!

Have a blessed weekend!

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