Patriots of America

This militia patrols the border, stops migrants and shoots video of children. Civil rights groups say they’re racist.

Molly Hennessy-Fiske

The armed militia arrived at the Rio Grande after dark and headed toward a group of 29 migrants who had illegally crossed the river.

The migrants had already been stopped by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, constables and National Guard troops. Under a spotlight, they huddled against a security fence, awaiting a Border Patrol van that would take them to a nearby station for processing.

Assembled law enforcement were not fazed to see the half-dozen armed figures emerge from the shadows, some toting AR 15-style rifles. For seven months, they have been working with the Patriots for America militia in South Texas, routinely allowing militia members to question migrants.

The militia’s leader, Sam Hall, shot video with his phone as he approached the migrants wearing a tactical vest, body camera and handgun strapped to his waist. He noticed a 5-year-old girl in a blue Batman sweatshirt.

“Where’s mama and papa?” Hall asked.

The girl just stared with wide brown eyes. Hall sat down beside her. He wanted to know how the girls joined the group. He asked a militia member to translate.

A migrant woman holding one of the girls said they had appeared without adults in Piedras Negras, the city on the Mexican bank.

“Sola,” said the woman, adding in English, “Alone. They crossed alone.”

Hall wasn’t satisfied.

 

 

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