Newscasts

PNS Daily Newscast - November 15, 2019 


President Trump asks SCOTUS to block release of his tax returns; use of the death penalty is on the decline across the country; and a push to make nutrition part of the health-care debate.

2020Talks - November 15, 2019 


Former MA Gov. Deval Patrick is officially running for president, saying he can attract more Independents and moderate Republicans than other candidates.

Daily Newscasts

Vigilante Accused of Holding Migrants at Border to Appear in Court

New Mexico's governor has demanded that a right-wing militia group stop detaining migrants at the border after they rounded up about 300 immigrants, many of them children. (Hencer Oliva/Adobe)
New Mexico's governor has demanded that a right-wing militia group stop detaining migrants at the border after they rounded up about 300 immigrants, many of them children. (Hencer Oliva/Adobe)
April 22, 2019

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A New Mexico man the FBI says was part of a right-wing militia group stopping migrant families at the border will appear in a Las Cruces courtroom today following his arrest on Saturday.

The man was a member of the United Constitutional Patriots, an armed group that has been holding migrants before handing them over to Border Patrol agents. The group has argued it has the right to make citizen arrests. But Peter Simonson, executive director of the ACLU of New Mexico, said he believes the group is fueling tensions and raising questions about who is in charge of enforcing the country's laws.

"We don't put law enforcement in the hands of private, heavily armed citizens,” Simonson said. “And the minute we decide to leave the law to be handled by vigilantes like these, then vigilante justice is what we'll get."

According to the FBI, the man arrested was 69-year-old Larry Mitchell Hopkins of Flora Vista. He is accused of being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition. Last week, federal authorities warned private groups against policing the border after social media videos showed armed civilians detaining large groups of Central American families in New Mexico.

The videos also showed members of the citizens' group ordering families, including children and toddlers, to sit on the ground and wait until Border Patrol agents arrived. In a statement, Customs and Border Protection said it "does not endorse or condone private groups or organizations that take enforcement matters into their own hands."

After seeing the videos, Simonson said, the ACLU called on the New Mexico governor and attorney general to investigate the group.

"If nothing else, the military uniforms that they're wearing, the weapons that they're carrying, and actually a number of them have badges on," Simonson said, "so impersonating a federal officer is a real consideration here.”

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham ordered the vigilante group to stand down, saying migrant families should not be menaced or threatened by citizens acting in an unofficial capacity.

Roz Brown, Public News Service - NM