ALBUQUERQUE, NM - Yesterday, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Mexico filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), demanding information regarding any communications and collaborations between Border Patrol and the United Constitutional Patriots (UCP), an armed vigilante group that has been illegally detaining migrants and asylum seekers at the border near Sunland Park, New Mexico. Footage shot by members and associates of the UCP group appear to show UCP working in close collaboration with Border Patrol agents, with vigilantes holding groups of migrants, including young children, at gunpoint until agents arrive on the scene. One of the group’s photos shows two mounted Border Patrol agents posing amiably with a khaki-clad vigilante, even though he conceals his face with a black balaclava and wears a badge conveying the false impression that he is a federal official.
“One of the most disturbing aspects of the recent vigilantism along our southern border are the signs that Border Patrol tacitly approves of the group’s illegal and dangerous activities,” said ACLU of New Mexico Peter Simonson. “The enforcement of federal immigration law belongs in the hands of trained professionals, not groups of heavily armed vigilantes. The public deserves to know the extent to which federal agents collaborated with UCP, and whether the group’s lawless activities had Border Patrol’s official or unofficial blessing.”
The FOIA filed yesterday by the ACLU of New Mexico asks CBP to provide
- All records pertaining to migrant apprehensions in the areas and time periods in which UCP members were illegally detaining migrants in the desert
- Names, badge numbers, and duty logs from agents working in areas UCP conducted vigilante activities
- All CBP internal communications pertaining to UCP
- All communications between CBP and UCP.
A copy of the filed FOIA can be found below.