Anxious about caravan Militia members scout US border town
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Militia members concerned about a migrant caravan traveling through Mexico toward the United States have traveled to Columbus, New Mexico, but the mayor of the border town of 1,600 residents says he sees no reason to be fearful.
The Albuquerque Journal reports that a few militia members were in Columbus in the past week offering help but that Mayor Salas Ezequiel said many people from elsewhere “hear things that are not true.”
Jim Peyton, a militia member interviewed by the Journal, said they were scouting locations to prepare for the caravan.
The militia members’ goal is to stop “bad guys” but they’re armed only for self-defense, said Peyton, from Jasper, Alabama.
Peyton said he and another militia member checked in with U.S. Customs and Border Protection as soon as they arrived in Columbus, as well as with the mayor. The militia will notify Border Patrol dispatch if they spot illegal crossings or smuggling, Peyton said.
“We’re here to assist when possible,” he said. “We don’t have the authority to touch, corral, interfere. That would be illegal because we are not authorized to do so.”
There’s no indication that the migrant caravan would try to cross the border at Columbus, and Salas said he tries to dispel misperceptions about his hometown.
“Don’t be fearful,” he said. “We’ve lived here for years. We have good relations (with Mexico). We work together.”
Columbus is 68 miles (109 kilometers) west of El Paso, Texas.
The Border Patrol’s El Paso Sector, which includes the New Mexico portion of the border, said in a statement that the agency was aware of people in the area “with the goal of ‘patrolling’ the border but they are not working in conjunction with the Border Patrol.”
The agency said anyone observing the border should report any illegal activity they witness “and allow those enforcement professionals to perform those duties without interfering.”