Militia groups are planning their own response to the recent flood of Central American immigrants across the Texas-Mexico border, according to a San Antonio Express-News report. The initiative called Operation Secure Our Border says it is recruiting armed volunteers to bolster law enforcement and border patrols near Laredo as soon as next week, but that they will not directly engage any so-called "illegals."
Operation Secure Our Border spokesman Rick Light insists that the group is not made up of vigilantes, and that their mission is to assist the Border Patrol and even provide aid to any immigrants in need.
"What we want to do is assist our law enforcement," Light said. "Giving them eyes and ears, better communication [and] also providing humanitarian aid to any of the lost illegals."
Light says the volunteer group is currently developing a plan with law enforcement and says the group's "test run" could take place in Laredo, adding that the group will be documenting law enforcement's encounters with immigrants to ensure no abuse from law enforcement occurs.
"When it comes to the illegal immigrants, that's the Border Patrol's job and the sheriff's job," Light said. "If we come across illegals, we're not going to tell them they've got to go back across the river. We'll just keep them there, talk to them, give them water and feed them —whatever we've got to do — until border patrol gets there and let them go ahead and make their apprehension. Let them do their thing."
One of the group's commanders, Chris Davis, recently posted a YouTube video encouraging members to threaten illegal immigrants with their weapons, according to the McAllen Monitor. Light called Davis a "spirited speaker," but urged that he is "good-hearted" and that he wouldn't hurt any immigrants.
Light said the group could be out on patrol as soon as next week, but couldn't confirm an exact number of how many volunteers there may be.
Texas has 76 armed militia groups across the state, the most of any state, according to a Southern Poverty Law Center survey.