Reprinted with permission from Shareblue.
Gun-toting far-right militia members and other vigilantes are interpreting Trumpâs apocalyptic fear-mongering about the so-called migrant âcaravanâ as a call to armsÂ â and theyâre answering that call, with potentially disastrous results.
According to the Associated Press, members of multiple armed militia groups are headed to the U.S.-Mexico border, where they plan to converge with other âpatriotâ groups, set up patrols, and wait for the âcaravanâ of Central American migrants who are still more than a month away from reaching the border.
Military and law enforcement officials are alarmed enough by the prospect of armed vigilantes gathering alongside thousands of U.S. troops at the border that they have issued warnings to Army commanders and local communities.
According to planning documents and intelligence reportsÂ obtained by Newsweek, the military is concerned about the arrival of âunregulated militia members self-deploying to the border in alleged supportâ of border patrol agents already stationed along the border with Mexico.
âPreliminary intelligence assessments are preparing for encounters with a litany of groups from unregulated militias to transcontinental criminal organizations,â the report warns.Â âThey operate under the guise of citizen patrols.â
The report went on to warn of âincidents of unregulated militias stealing National Guard equipment during deployments.â
Meanwhile, Customs and Border PatrolÂ sent out an advisoryÂ last week telling landowners in Texas to expect âpossible armed civiliansâ on their property.
In some areas, theyâre already there. The Albuquerque JournalÂ reportedÂ on Friday that militia members had started to show up in border towns in New Mexico:
At a hotel in town Wednesday, a few members of the militia rested and waited for nightfall to patrol the border. One of their trucks in the parking lot had an âISIS huntingâ decal on the bottom of the windshield.
As one of the militiamen paced in front of the hotel, smoking and talking on his phone, another sat in a chair on the second-floor balcony holding binoculars.
They were spurred to action by news of thousands of Central American migrants in a caravan headed for the border, said Jim Peyton, a 71-year-old retired Detroit police officer.
And these arenât just any armed civilians.
The so-called âPatriot movementâ is an umbrella term used to describe a loosely connected web ofÂ radical right-wing groupsÂ âcharacterized by armed militias, wild conspiracy theories, a hatred of the Federal Government and government regulation, an overarching love for guns, and occasionally a strong component of racism,â according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which researches hate groups and extremist movements.
Despite their penchant for violence and anti-government ideology, some of these groups have formed alliances with mainstream Republicans â like in Oregon, where the state Republican party moved to have militias provide security at its events.
In a particularly disturbing development, the past few years have seen the emergence of hybrid militia groups that combine the anti-government, pro-gun insurrectionist spirit of the Patriot movement with the violent and racist ideology of the white supremacist movement.
The Southern Poverty Law CenterÂ describesÂ this movement as a âwhite nationalist army working to create âthe new American nation state.’â
Already emboldened by Trump, these groups now hear his anti-immigrant rhetoric and fear-mongering as a legitimate call to arms.
Some of them are even mimicking Trumpâs language in their ownÂ calls to action, urging other armed militia members to join them in securing the border from âa Mob of Migrating Immigrants.â
The militia members who have gathered at the border have parroted Trumpâs campaign rants byÂ describingÂ the group of asylum-seeking migrants as a âTrojan horseâ or a âdecoyâ hiding ISIS, MS-13, and cartel gang members.
Based on no evidence whatsoever, TrumpÂ continues to claimÂ that âunknown Middle Easterners,â âvery tough men,â and large numbers of gang members and violent criminals are travelingÂ among the women, children and families.
Now, heâs sending our troops to go defend against a threat that he manufactured for political purposes.
But in a twisted turn of events, it looks like our troops really will have dangerous people to contend withÂ â the radical right-wing militia members who were inspired by Trump.
Published with permission of The American Independent.Â