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Private groups call for armed volunteers to patrol U.S.-Mexico border

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'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By Reuters
Saturday, July 12, 2014, 7:27 p.m.
 

DALLAS — Citizen groups in border states are seeking armed volunteers to patrol the U.S.-Mexico frontier alongside law enforcement officers who are struggling to deal with a surge of undocumented migrants from Central America.

Southwestern states have had a flood of arrivals this year, putting a strain on the Customs and Border Protection agency.

Anti-illegal immigration groups have turned to social media, blogs and 24-hour hotlines in the hope of recruiting thousands of volunteers to help out.

But federal authorities have made it clear they do not support any private group taking matters into its own hands, saying that could have “disastrous” consequences.

The activists maintain that their efforts are needed because the federal government has failed to secure the border.

In a Web posting on Thursday, The Minuteman Project, led by former Marine Jim Gilchrist, said it will take 10 months to organize the start of Operation Normandy.

The group said it expected to attract 3,500 armed citizen volunteers to cover sections of the 2,000-mile border from San Diego, Calif., via Arizona and New Mexico to Brownsville, Texas.

Unlike the Normandy invasion of France in 1944, Gilchrist said, the group's members will not leave home soil.

“We are not going to the border to invade anyone. We are going there to stop an invasion,” he wrote online.

Meanwhile, another group whose members are known as “Patriots” is organizing military-style operations and appealing for donations of gear, including night-vision equipment, via the website PatriotsInformationHotline.com.

According to the site, the group has four operations deployed along the border in Texas and three on the ground in Arizona.

“We need to save America. Look to the future. Step up NOW!!” reads one call to action on the website.

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