Following the arrest of the commander an armed vigilante group rounding up illegal immigrants in New Mexico, National Border Patrol Council Vice President Hector Garza said his group appreciates the support of the American people, but border security is best left up to professionals.
Larry Mitchell Hopkins, the leader of the group United Constitutional Patriots, was arrested Saturday on charges of firearms possession by a felon after his group was accused of detaining nearly 200 migrants at gunpoint along the U.S./Mexico border until Border Patrol agents arrived.
Garza told "America's Newsroom" on Monday he has worked with other volunteer groups before, who are typically very helpful, but not the United Constitutional Patriots.
"As border patrol agents, we appreciate the support that the American public gives border patrol agents as we try to change border security," Garza said. "What we do ask is that border security work is left up to border security experts, border patrol agents, and any organization that's operating along the border that they follow the law as they try to help achieve border security."
After news broke of Hopkins' arrest, the New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas released a statement calling the self-declared vigilante as a: "dangerous felon who should not have weapons around children and families."
Garza went on to discuss his work with border volunteers in Texas, who he says have actually saved the lives of many people who were left behind by smugglers. In the case of the United Constitutional Patriots, however, it's critical that those hoping to help with border security aren't breaking the law, he said.
"We do ask that they follow the law... and make sure that they are able to possess weapons, that they are able to do the right thing, that they're not invading private property and that they operate within the boundaries of the law," he continued.
Armed vigilante groups have been active along the border for many years, and see themselves as a necessary force to aide border patrol agents. Garza called the situation at the border "very, very desperate" adding that they do need more help and resources.
"People are abusing our immigration laws and we need to stop that," Garza said. Ultimately, he continued, the goal is to keep everyone in America safe.
"it's all about safety - the safety of our American people, the safety of our border agents, and we want to achieve border security - plain and simple," he said.