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article imageOp-Ed: Border troop call-up to also control U.S. far-right, militias

By Karen Graham     Nov 4, 2018 in Politics
Troops headed for the US-Mexico border aren't just aiming to help prevent migrant entry—they have unregulated militias and criminal organizations on their minds, too, according to planning documents obtained by Newsweek.
In a powerpoint presentation from Saturday, the Joint Force Land Component Commander Threat Working Group prepared an intelligence assessment for Pentagon officials as they begin to carry out Operation Faithful Patriot, the interagency operation with the Department of Defense and led by the Department of Homeland Security, that started Tuesday.
Newsweek obtained the sensitive documents, marked as “UNCLASSIFIED//FOUO//LES,” meaning, the documents are for official use only and are law enforcement sensitive, from two different Defense Department sources who are familiar with the U.S. Northern Command's mission on the southern U.S. border.
In April  US President Donald Trump ordered up to 4 000 National Guardsmen to head to the US-Mexico ...
In April, US President Donald Trump ordered up to 4,000 National Guardsmen to head to the US-Mexico border, pictured from the Tijuana side
Ariana Drehsler, AFP/File
Of the four points of entry along the U.S.-Mexico border, two areas of concern to U.S. intelligence officials are the point of entry in Brownsville, Texas, where the Rio Grande River is located between Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico, and the San Ysidro point of entry that separates San Diego, California from Tijuana, Mexico.
The Defense Department already knows that almost 200 armed militia groups are already operating along the southern border, in the guise of supporting U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents. “Estimated 200 unregulated armed militia members currently operating along the southwest border. Reported incidents of unregulated militias stealing National Guard equipment during deployments. They operate under the guise of citizen patrols supporting CBP [Customs and Border Protection] primarily between POEs [Points of Entry],” according to the documents.
Here come the gun-toting militias
According to the Washington Post, this intelligence does support media reports that say armed groups of militia and far-right activists are moving toward the southern border.
Part of the border wall in the Rio Grande Valley Sector  near McAllen  Texas
Part of the border wall in the Rio Grande Valley Sector, near McAllen, Texas
With Trump's insisting that “unknown Middle Easterners,” “very tough fighters,” and large numbers of violent criminals are traveling among the women, children, and families heading north on foot, gun-carrying civilian groups and border vigilantes have oiled their rifles, packed their tents and filled their coolers, all in preparation for massing on the border.
Shannon McGauley, a bail bondsman in the Dallas suburbs who is president of the Texas Minutemen, said he couldn't put a number on how many volunteers were headed to the border. “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 asked if they had any plans to deploy with weapons, McGauley laughed. “This is Texas, man,” he said.
Manuel Padilla Jr., the top Border Patrol official in the agency’s Rio Grande Valley sector, the nation’s busiest for illegal crossings, said, "We don’t have any specific information about the militias. 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.” He also stressed the militias were doing this on their own.
Village of Columbus  New Mexico as seen from Pancho Villa State Park.
Village of Columbus, New Mexico as seen from Pancho Villa State Park.
Rodan44 (CC BY-SA 3.0)
What border farmers and towns have to say
Most of the small towns along our border with Mexico have good relations with their counterparts across the border. And with the heated rhetoric continuing to be fueled by Trump's assertions of an "invasion," border communities are caught in the middle.
Many people are becoming very concerned over mobs of armed militia and other groups descending on the border. “They should not be patrolling the border if they were not sent by the federal government,” said Martin Garcia, a resident of the small town of Columbus, New Mexico, home to about 1,600 residents.
Militia members who spoke with the Albuquerque Journal said they will only serve as extra eyes and ears near the border and notify Border Patrol dispatch if they spot illegal crossings or smuggling.
To illustrate how uninformed many people really are on the laws governing immigration and seeking asylum in the United States, Minutemen Project National Political Director Howie Morgan, speaking with Newsweek, said, “We believe our nation is under attack by foreigners who refuse to accept the rule of law on how to become a citizen in the United States."
Asylum seekers gather at El Chaparral port of entry in Tijuana  Mexico as they seek an  appointment ...
Asylum seekers gather at El Chaparral port of entry in Tijuana, Mexico as they seek an appointment to present their asylum request to US authorities
When asked about the groups of immigrants coming to the U.S. border to make their claims for asylum, Morgan stated that they should make those claims “in their own country. Instead of following the rules, they are using our nation’s laws as a shortcut to get in front of the line."
Morgan apparently is not well versed on American Asylum law. According to the American Immigration Council in May, 2018, "Any alien who is physically present in the United States or who arrives in the United States (whether or not at a designated port of arrival and including an alien who is brought to the United States after having been interdicted in international or United States waters), irrespective of such alien’s status, may apply for asylum in accordance with this section or, where applicable, section 1225(b) of this title."
Interestingly, when Morgan sent out the call for the militias to congregate at the border, he wrote: “The real fascists and xenophobes are those who openly hate us because we love our country just as we love our families and our communities." His message also warned members to not talk to the news media, reminding them that “most newspaper reporters” will be “hostile to your presence on the border,” aside from Fox News, and One America News, according to Newsweek.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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