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Sunday, February 5th, 2023

Sens. Markey, Warren, Booker express concerns regarding southern border vigilante group

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U.S. Sens. Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Cory Booker (D-NJ) recently expressed concerns regarding increased paramilitary vigilante groups patrolling the U.S.-Mexico border.

The senators forwarded correspondence to Attorney General Merrick Garland, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, and Acting Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Administrator Troy Miller. They maintain the paramilitary vigilante groups are intimidating, harassing, and detaining immigrants, in certain circumstances, collaborating with local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies.

“Two paramilitary organizations of particular concern are Veterans on Patrol (VOP) and Patriots for America (PFA),” the legislators wrote. “Led by individuals with a long history of spreading conspiratorial narratives rooted in white nationalism, and who paint migrants as violent child predators and drug traffickers, VOP and PFA have engaged in a campaign of harassment and intimidation.”

The senators wrote that since 2021, VOP has been intercepting unaccompanied minors near the border in Arizona, surveilling U.S.-based sponsors, and confronting, or helping others confront, the sponsors at their homes while disguising its desert campsites as water stations to lure migrants.

“Absent federal action cracking down on their unauthorized behavior, vigilante groups will continue to operate and weaken the government’s ability to maintain migrant safety, protect human rights and defend the rule of law at the border,” the legislators concluded.

The senators requested that the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and CBP respond to a series of questions regarding southern border paramilitary vigilante group activity and actions taken to address such.