3 Records of Alleged Abusive or Improper Conduct where the event type is “Vigilantism Tolerance or Collaboration” where the accountability status is “Unknown”

July 2023

Following a December 2022 investigation by the Project on Government Oversight and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, which found more than 300 members of the “Oath Keepers” far-right militia group “described themselves as current or former employees” of DHS, Sen Edward J. Markey (D-Massachusetts) and Representatives Dan Goldman (D-New York) and Robert Garcia (D-California) led a letter to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, signed by 66 members of Congress, “requesting an update on actions the Department has taken to address the threat of domestic violent extremism within the DHS.” The letter cites various incidents of collaboration with vigilante groups or approval of them from federal agents. 

As cited by The New York Times, Rep. Daniel S. Goldman (D-N.Y.) said in an interview, “There’s real urgency here.” Goldman said DHS’s acknowledgment that there were gaps in identifying extremist employees “creates real security issues and real credibility issues for the department, especially in light of the Oath Keepers’ role in January 6th and the convictions for seditious conspiracy.”

The letters gave Mayorkas a July 31 deadline to address 20 questions. Secretary Mayorkas has yet to respond.

—Jackman, Tom. “Democrats Press Homeland Security on Domestic Extremism in Workforce.” Washington Post, July 17, 2023. https://www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/2023/07/17/domestic-terrorism-homeland-security-extremism-oathkeepers/.
—Markey, Edward. “Markey, Garcia, Goldman Lead Call for Update on Investigation Into Domestic Terrorism Threat Within the Department of Homeland Security | U.S. Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts.” U.S. Senate, July 17, 2023. https://www.markey.senate.gov/news/press-releases/markey-garcia-goldman-lead-call-for-update-on-investigation-into-domestic-terrorism-threat-within-the-department-of-homeland-security.
—Schwellenback, Nick. “Hundreds of Oath Keepers Have Worked for DHS, Leaked List Shows.” Project On Government Oversight, December 12, 2022. https://www.pogo.org/investigation/2022/12/hundreds-of-oath-keepers-have-worked-for-dhs-leaked-list-shows.

Sector(s): Border Patrol, Border-Wide, CBP

Agency(ies): CBP, DHS

Event Type(s): Vigilantism Tolerance or Collaboration

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification:

May 13, 2022

A Los Angeles Times investigation found that Border Patrol and local law enforcement agencies in the vicinity of Eagle Pass, Texas, are working at times alongside “Patriots for America,” an armed conservative Christian citizen militia that the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas accuses of espousing White supremacist beliefs.

A Times reporter witnessed militia members intercepting and interviewing migrant children in the field as Border Patrol agents look on.

— Molly Hennessy-Fiske, “Border militia stops migrants and shoots video of kids. Rights groups say they’re racist” (Eagle Pass: Los Angeles Times, May 13, 2022) https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2022-05-13/texas-border-militia.

Sector(s): Del Rio

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Vigilantism Tolerance or Collaboration

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Unaccompanied Child

May 24, 2021

Video footage posted to Facebook, cited in a January 6, 2023 letter from three Democratic U.S. Senators to the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice, depicts a Border Patrol agent having a friendly, supportive conversation at a Texas checkpoint with members of a militia group, which the letter identifies as “Veterans on Patrol.” (Original link)

The unidentified Border Patrol agent tells the militia members:

You guys are very effective and a lot of fun. You can’t talk to every agent the way you talk to me. Maybe 90% of the people you can. We’ve got some strange f—ing ducks, man. When you talk about confiscating guns, they’re like [mocking voice] “yeah you should do it.”

The agent appears to accept the militia members’ offer of a memory card with drone footage on it. “I’ll pass this along to the right people,” he says.

“Citizens, I don’t mind anything you guys do,” the agent concludes. “Really, I’m telling you, dude. Whatever you do, man. … Hey, I appreciate it.”

(.mp3 file of audio excerpted from the video)

— “Arizona Southern Border Nightmare.” Dsw74News on Facebook, May 24, 2021. <https://www.facebook.com/DSW74/videos/arizona-southern-border-nightmare/142350517880294/.>

— Markey, Sen. Edward J., Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and Sen. Cory A. Booker. “Senators’ Letter to the Biden Administration on Vigilante Groups at the Southern U.S. Border,” January 6, 2023. <https://www.markey.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/senators_letter_to_the_biden_administration_on_vigilante_groups_at_the_southern_us_border_-_january_2023pdf.pdf>.

Sector(s): Border-Wide

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Vigilantism Tolerance or Collaboration

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: