A Christian militia group, whose mission is to stop child trafficking and drug smuggling, is stepping up to help overwhelmed law enforcement at the border who are contending with the effects of a historic migrant crisis.
Patriots for America is a Christian group, whose website says it is dedicated to "fight to defend everyone’s Constitutional rights while helping protect our borders and working together with law enforcement to rescue minors and children from sex trafficking."
The group arrived at the border last year, conducts monthly rotations and has been working with law enforcement, including communicating with the sheriff of Kinney County. It is part of a number of actions counties across the state, as well as the state itself, are taking to deal with the surge in illegal immigrants coming across the border.
Just this week, Kinney and a number of other counties have declared the crisis at the border an "invasion" and are urging the state and the federal government to do more to stop the crisis. In May alone, there were more than 239,000 migrant encounters at the border. Border Patrol agents have frequently spoken about being overwhelmed, and the agency's head has acknowledged the low morale agents from which agents are suffering.
Samuel Hall, founder of Patriots for America, told Fox News Digital that the group runs operations both in northern and southern Texas to stop the exploitation of children and has worked hard to build up its reputation among law enforcement agencies with a commitment to hard work and consistency.
"We worked very hard for that reputation, and so I think once they saw that we weren't just going to show up and leave and that we were there consistently and our message was good, and it hadn't changed, and we weren't starting trouble, I think there was a period of testing for about six months and once they saw that we passed that test, they were willing to work with us after that. But it took a while. It definitely was an exhausting process," he said.
While members of the group are armed and trained (members include former law enforcement and former military who help train the teams), Hall stressed that their mission is humanitarian -- and focused on getting asylum seekers to safety and away from the traffickers and gangs who prowl the border and exploit those trying to get to the U.S. It is a dangerous mission. When Hall spoke with Fox, he was recovering from a leg injury after falling down a cliff while chasing coyotes. He also spoke about how his men and women will rescue migrants struggling in the perilous waters at the border.
"These are asylum seekers, these are families with small children. We’ve been pulling even babies out of the river. And I'm not talking about waist-deep rivers…they’re swimming with their baby and anything can happen. The current’s strong," he said.
"And so we’re trying to help save their lives and get them properly dealt with, with medical, to make sure they didn't have any coyotes trying to traffic them or hurt them if they have any drugs on them, weapons on them, if they were exploited to smuggle something in because a lot of them are," he said. "And then we work with Border Patrol to get them processed."
According to the Los Angeles Times, the group has caught the attention of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), who have complained to the Justice Department about the group, calling them racist and accusing them of intimidating migrants. Hall strongly denies the allegations and says the group is only trying "to be the hands and feet of Christ wherever we go" and notes that it runs entirely off donations via their website and not funding from any agency.
"We don't see people coming across the border, these immigrants, as non-humans like a lot of people shun them to be -- these are God's people," he said. "They're looking for a better life."
He said that while they do not agree with people entering the country illegally, "we're not going to treat them like dogs."
"We're going to treat them as human beings. We pray with them, we give them food, we give them water. It's not for us to say whether they stay or go, if they get deported through our law system or if they're allowed to stay, that's over our heads," he said.
Hall noted that many migrants have been abused or mistreated, with regular reports of women being sexually assaulted on their way to the border.
"So the last thing we're going to do is be mean to them. We're not going to be the evil face that they've seen for however long, a month, two months that they've been walking away from whatever country. We're going to be the face of Jesus Christ. We're going to show them love, because Lord knows they haven't been shown any love for most of their journey."
Hall was much more critical of the Biden administration (which he describes as a regime), as well as the United Nations, for what he said are policies that encourage migrants to try to enter the country illegally.
"The federal government isn't doing literally anything. In fact, they're perpetuating that problem along with the United Nations," he said, pointing to reported efforts by U.N. agencies providing other assistance and information to migrants.
"It's all an engineered crisis. None of this is on accident. Literally every bit of this is engineered for the purpose of holding on to political power in D.C," he said.