Defending the American way

Defending the American way

Advertisement

Fernando Rivera Jr.'s house sits near an open gate in the U.S.-Mexico border fence, through which migrants often cross onto his property in Brownsville, Texas.

Recently, groups of heavily armed private citizens such as the Patriots, who use displays of force to intimidate people attempting to cross the border illegally, have started to patrol in the area.

. BROWNSVILLE, UNITED STATES. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

Fernando Rivera Jr. poses at the open gate in the 18-foot-high rust-coloured steel barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border near his home.

Rivera, who said it can take up to 45 minutes for a county sheriff to arrive after a call for help, feels that circumstances have improved since the patriots’ arrival.

“Now, when they’re on patrol, it’s actually peaceful,” he said. “The dogs don’t bark as much. I can actually get some sleep.”

. BROWNSVILLE, UNITED STATES. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

Patriots Huggie Bear, left, Ray, centre, and Will, right, patrol in their UTV near the border. Group members asked to be identified only by their handles or first names.

“Our goal here is to try to deter [migrants] from coming,” said Huggie Bear, a 25-year-old former U.S. Army infantry team leader. “They see us, they don’t know who we are, so that kind of scares people away for a while,”

“If you spot them and shine your light on them, that lets them know that you're there. Nine times out of ten, they’re not going to come over,” said Will, a 25-year-old construction worker from Indiana who flew to Texas for a stint with the Patriots.

“Even if they are going to try to cross again, we’re still making it harder for them and that’s the reason we’re here,” he said.

The Patriots Information Hotline, a networking call centre, estimates that 22 groups of “armed patriots” have sprung up along the border from Texas to California this year.

1 / 9

Slideshow

A sign is displayed in a farm field near the U.S.-Mexico border outside Brownsville.
. BROWNSVILLE, UNITED STATES. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

A sign is displayed in a farm field near the U.S.-Mexico border outside Brownsville.

Rusty Monsees, owner of the land on which the Patriots operate, poses for a portrait.  Monsees, 66, said “illegals” have poisoned his dogs and sprayed the windows of his house with bullets, but he refuses to leave.
. BROWNSVILLE, UNITED STATES. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

Rusty Monsees, owner of the land on which the Patriots operate, poses for a portrait. Monsees, 66, said “illegals” have poisoned his dogs and sprayed the windows of his house with bullets, but he refuses to leave.

A U.S. Border Patrol vehicle drives by the 18-foot-high rust-coloured steel barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border at sunset.
. BROWNSVILLE, UNITED STATES. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

A U.S. Border Patrol vehicle drives by the 18-foot-high rust-coloured steel barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border at sunset.

Patriots patrol the area in their vehicle.
. BROWNSVILLE, UNITED STATES. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

Patriots patrol the area in their vehicle.

Patriots Huggie Bear, left, Will, centre, and Rob Chupp, right, patrol the border.
. BROWNSVILLE, UNITED STATES. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

Patriots Huggie Bear, left, Will, centre, and Rob Chupp, right, patrol the border.

A patch is seen on the Rob’s flak jacket.
. BROWNSVILLE, UNITED STATES. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

A patch is seen on the Rob’s flak jacket.

Rob goes through a woman's purse abandoned on the U.S. side of the Rio Grande River, near a patriot camp.
. BROWNSVILLE, UNITED STATES. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

Rob goes through a woman's purse abandoned on the U.S. side of the Rio Grande River, near a patriot camp.

Fernando Rivera Jr., centre, watches as a neighbour’s pet raccoon inspects his son rifle outside their home.
. BROWNSVILLE, UNITED STATES. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

Fernando Rivera Jr., centre, watches as a neighbour’s pet raccoon inspects his son rifle outside their home.

A sign reading “We Don't Dial 911” hangs outside Rivera’s house.
. BROWNSVILLE, UNITED STATES. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

A sign reading “We Don't Dial 911” hangs outside Rivera’s house.