Following a surge in the number of undocumented immigrant children and families from Central America apprehended by Border Patrol in the Rio Grande Valley, a citizen militia group is reportedly calling on its members to travel to South Texas to guard the U.S.–Mexico border.
The group, which identifies itself as a coalition of "Patriots," is asking members to join an operation they are calling "Operation Secure Our Border - Laredo Sector."
A spokeswoman for the group, Denice Freeman, told the Brownsville Herald the operation is a call for civilian militia members to guard private property in Laredo and other parts of Texas where owners feel threatened by "drug cartels and from gangs, particularly MS-13 gangs," referring to a Salvadoran street gang with Los Angeles roots that now has a presence in 46 states.
Freeman said she expects militia members — some of them armed — to become visible in border communities including the Rio Grande Valley in the coming weeks. She said the operation's commander, Chris Davis, is warning members against using violence.
"This is not a 'go-in-guns-blazing' kind of thing," Freeman said. "This will be handled with the utmost professionalism and security and safety for everyone involved."
But in a YouTube video posted June 14, a man who identified himself as commander Chris Davis said militia members "need to go armed" and incited them to "start the next 1776 right there on the border" if they are confronted by local law enforcement and federal agents.
In the 21-minute video, the man also accused "illegal immigrants" of "invading" the country and said, "It is time that we start taking back our national sovereignty."
"How?" the man asked. "You see an illegal. You point your gun right dead at him, right between the eyes, and say, 'Get back across the border or you will be shot.'"
A call to action posted in a Facebook group Saturday by a person who also identified commander Chris Davis suggests the group is sending people and resources to the border in southern Arizona as well.