A right-wing militia group operating in southern New Mexico has begun detaining groups of migrant families at gunpoint, reports New York Times.
Members of the United Constitutional Patriots recently uploaded a video on social media in which they could be seen detaining a group of about 200 migrants who had crossed the southern border near Sunland Park. They were later handed over to Border Patrol agents.
New Mexico government has condemned the act and termed it unlawful. In a statement, Hector Balderas, New Mexico's attorney general, said: "These individuals should not attempt to exercise authority reserved for law enforcement."
However, The United Constitutional Patriots have claimed that they have done nothing unconstitutional.
"We are just here to support the Border Patrol and show the public the reality of the border," Jim Benvie, the spokesman for the United Constitutional Patriots said.
Carlos A. Diaz, a spokesman for Customs and Border Protection, the federal agency that includes the Border Patrol, declined to discuss the episode or the United Constitutional Patriots, but said the agency "does not endorse private groups or organizations taking enforcement matters into their own hands."
The recent activities of the militias have attracted a lot of criticism from various human rights activists.
The American Civil Liberties Union denounced the militia's actions in a letter on Friday that asked New Mexico's governor and attorney general to investigate the matter. The ACLU said the militia had no legal authority under New Mexico or federal law to detain or arrest migrants in the United States.
"We cannot allow racist and armed vigilantes to kidnap and detain people seeking asylum," two lawyers for the ACLU, Maria Martinez Sanchez and Kirsten Greer Love, said in the letter. (ANI)