Texas Republican: Armed militia groups ‘have a right’ to patrol border
A Texas lawmaker defended volunteer militia groups patrolling the U.S.-Mexico border, saying they “have a right to be there.”
State Rep. Doug Miller (R- New Braunfels) toured the Rio Grande Valley last week with state police and rode in a Department of Public Safety gunboat and helicopter.
The three-term Republican lawmaker claimed Mexican drug cartels had been “helping and encouraging people to send their children” to the United States, reported the Houston Chronicle.
“It is all part of the strategy of the cartels to cause distractions for border patrol and for our law enforcement so they can continue or enhance their drug operation,” said Miller, who blamed Central American violence and poverty on the cartels.
Gov. Rick Perry has deployed 1,000 National Guard troops and stepped up DPS patrols along the border to deal with the highly publicized surge of migrants, and at least 10 armed militia groups wearing masks and combat gear have also joined the response.
A dozen Democratic legislators sent a letter last week to Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott asking him to denounce the militias and clarify the legality of their operations, the newspaper reported.
“Pointing guns at children solves nothing,” said state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte (D-San Antonio), referring to comments by the militia’s self-proclaimed commander about aiming firearms at suspected illegal immigrants.
“You see an illegal,” said “Commander” Chris Davis, of Operation Secure Our Borders. “You point your gun dead at him, right between his eyes, and you say, ‘Get back across the border or you will be shot.'”
Miller praised the enhanced patrols by government agents and private militia groups, saying the “show of force” had deterred migrants and cartels.
“We have secured state resources in the absence of federal assistance,” he said. “It is encouraging to me, as a state lawmaker, that we have sent professional personnel to the border. We’ll never have 100 percent secure border, but I think with what we’ve done, we’ve sent a very clear message to Mexico that we are not going to accept this.”
Although U.S. Customs and Border Patrol has urged them to stay away, Miller said militia members “are private citizens and they have a right to be there and a right to bear arms if they have permission of the land owner.”
“They are on private property, helping ranchers and owners to keep illegals coming onto or through their property … and there haven’t been any problems,” Miller said. “When (militia members) are coming into an area, they’ve been very forthright, letting (law enforcement) know they were there so there wouldn’t be some type of negative interaction.”