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Border vigilantes step up patrols in Texas

An American flag flies at the U.S.-Mexico border on February 26, 2013 near Sonoita, Arizona
An American flag flies at the U.S.-Mexico border on February 26, 2013 near Sonoita, Arizona
John Moore/Getty Images

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As House Republicans push for their slimmed down border security bill in Congress today, militias are deploying armed, masked men in towns across Texas. The groups have grown to more than 10 active “teams” from El Paso to the Rio Grande Valley, according to the San Antonio Express-News.  

The news outlet was given photos showing men in fatigues with tactical gear and semi-automatic weapons. Texas Democrats urged their Attorney General to rein in the groups.

“These lawless militias could worsen an already difficult situation by promoting violence against minors who are seeking refuge and fleeing violent situations in their home countries,” the Democrats wrote in a letter this week. “Furthermore, the actions of these militia groups perpetuate the stigma that the border is a war zone, which is certainly not the case, and only continues to hurt the economic potential of an important area of our state.”

Are local residents in Texas happy to see the militias, or worried that tensions will be heightened? Would a National Guard deployment appease the groups?


Robert Churchill, Associate Professor, American History, University of Hartford in Connecticut. He has written about the early history of the U.S. militia movement.

Doris Meissner, former Commissioner of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (1993-2000); Senior Fellow, Migration Policy Institute - an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit think tank in Washington, D.C. dedicated to analysis of the movement of people worldwide.