ACLU Demands Investigation Into Pro-Trump Fascist Militia Detaining Migrants

The ACLU of New Mexico on Thursday demanded an investigation into “an armed fascist militia organization” that has reportedly been illegally detaining migrants at gunpoint at the U.S.-Mexico border.

“The Trump administration’s vile racism has emboldened white nationalists and fascists to flagrantly violate the law,” the group wrote in a letter to New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and Attorney General Hector Balderas.

“This has no place in our state: we cannot allow racist and armed vigilantes to kidnap and detain people seeking asylum,” the letter continues. “We urge you to immediately investigate this atrocious and unlawful conduct.”

The ACLU cited videos and photographs posted to social media that appear to show the right-wing militia group, the United Constitutional Patriots, detaining dozens of migrants.

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“Two nights ago, on April 16, 2019, an armed fascist militia organization describing itself as the United Constitutional Patriots arrested nearly three hundred people seeking safety in the United States, including young children, near Sunland Park, New Mexico,” the ACLU said in its letter.

“The vigilante members of the organization, including Jim Benvie, who posted videos and photographs of the unlawful arrests to social media, are not police or law enforcement and they have no authority under New Mexico or federal law to detain or arrest migrants in the United States,” the civil liberties group added.

As Buzzfeed reported, the United Constitutional Patriots militia has “expressed support for President Trump and his effort to build a border wall.”

Read the ACLU of New Mexico’s full letter:

Dear Governor Lujan Grisham and Attorney General Balderas:

Two nights ago, on April 16, 2019, an armed fascist militia organization describing itself as the United Constitutional Patriots arrested nearly three hundred people seeking safety in the United States, including young children, near Sunland Park, New Mexico.

Other videos appear to show arrests in the past few hours. The vigilante members of the organization, including Jim Benvie, who posted videos and photographs of the unlawful arrests to social media, are not police or law enforcement and they have no authority under New Mexico or federal law to detain or arrest migrants in the United States.

Their actions undermine the legitimate efforts of our state’s law enforcement officials to keep New Mexico families safe and they erode community trust. The Trump administration’s vile racism has emboldened white nationalists and fascists to flagrantly violate the law. This has no place in our state: we cannot allow racist and armed vigilantes to kidnap and detain people seeking asylum. We urge you to immediately investigate this atrocious and unlawful conduct.