It is ironic that a group with “constitutional” in their name is so unaware — or defiant — of the law and the constitution. Only trained law enforcement officials, like the Border Patrol and ICE, have the authority to detain migrants. But last week, Hopkins’ group posted videos purporting to show their members identifying themselves as “Border Patrol” and holding immigrants at gunpoint. One member told Reuters that they had “helped” Border Patrol detain 5,600 migrants in the last two months.
By improperly holding people against their will, whether those people legally crossed the border or not, members of the United Constitutional Patriots have opened themselves to charges of assault, false imprisonment, kidnapping and impersonating law enforcement officers. (Hopkins, notably, was previously arrested in 2006 for impersonating law enforcement and illegal possession of a firearm and thus is presumably well aware his actions were not legal.) The UCP members are also likely trespassing on privately-held or federal land.
More importantly, it is perfectly legal under U.S. law for people to cross the border without papers and apply for asylum and other forms of humanitarian relief. So if anyone is “illegal” in a confrontation with Hopkins’ followers, it is the United Constitutional Patriots.