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Members of the “Patriots” Huggie Bear (L, not his real name), Ray (C, no last name given) and Will (R, no last name given) patrol in their UTV near a camp of patriots near the U.S.-Mexico border outside Brownsville, Texas September 2, 2014. (Reuters/Rick Wilking)

Armed militias continue to patrol the United States-Mexico border seeking to repel any migration north, but critics warn that these self-styled ‘freedom defenders’ lingering on private land represent a powder keg that could have “disastrous” consequences.

Near Brownsville, Texas, a group of private citizens simply known as the Patriots were invited to watch 21 acres of border land owned by Rusty Monsees. The group, Reuters reported, has been on the land since early summer, when news reports announced that unprecedented numbers of unaccompanied minors from Central America had crossed the border.

In the first half of 2014, around 52,000 children, among many others, attempted the trek, fleeing poverty, violence, and systemic abuse present in their home nations. Many have ended up warehoused in US military installations and otherfacilities awaiting their fate amongst aninhospitable, nativist climate. President Barack Obama has vowed some type of immigration reform via executive action in the face of an inert Congress. Yet Obama has said he will not move on reform until after congressional midterm elections in November.

The numerous militias along the border join the US Customs and Border Protection as well as theTexas National Guard. The Patriots Information Hotline, a networking call center, claims 22 groups of “armed patriots” are patrolling the border, from Texas to California.

The US Border Patrol has warned that armed vigilantes taking intimidation tactics too far could have “disastrous personal and public safety consequences.”

Yet the Patriots back in Brownsville insist the description “vigilante” is unfair, and that they are not itching to fire their high-powered firearms.

“Everybody has this bad taste in their mouth about ‘militias.’ They think we’re out here trying to smoke people and kill them as soon as they cross the border. Which obviously, is not the case,” said “Huggie Bear,” a member of the Patriots who is a former US Army infantry team leader.

“Our goal here is to try to deter them from coming. They see us, they don’t know who we are, so that kind of scares people away for a while,” he told Reuters.

Militia groups on the border have been invited by private landowners to patrol in certain areas, as is the case with the Patriots near Brownsville. Expenses are usually paid by the militia members, with sympathetic donors also offering support funding, according to Reuters.

Monsees said he asked for help on his border land given “illegals” have allegedly poisoned his dogs and shot at his house. “If they [the militia] leave, I’m dead,” he said.

Read more at RT News

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