SUNLAND PARK, New Mexico - Jim Benvie, with a group of self-described "border patriots" keeping an eye on the Anapra Gap near Sunland Park, told ABC-7's Christina Aguayo on Friday his group does detain undocumented immigrants until Border Patrol agents arrive.
"Do we apprehend people? No! Do we detain people? Yes," said Benvie, with the United Constitutional Patriots.
"Why do we detain them? How do we detain them? It's really simple," said Benvie, "As a citizen, any citizen out there, you have the right, if you observe a crime, in the commission of being committed, which in this case is crossing the border illegally, it's still a crime. It's still a crime in the United States."
Benvie further stated, "If I witness that crime happening, as a citizen, I have a right to make a citizen's arrest."
The Anapra Gap is the spot where the existing border fence ends near Mount Cristo Rey and Sunland Park, New Mexico. Groups of undocumented immigrants can easily enter the U.S. via the gap.
Earlier this week, the United Constitutional Patriots said they detained a group of nearly 360 undocumented immigrants while Border Patrol agents arrived at the scene. The incident was recorded on Facebook live.
On Friday, U.S. Customs and Border Protection issued a warning through social media asking citizens not to take the law into their own hands. CBP reminded citizens interference in law enforcement matters could have public safety and legal consequences.
Earlier this week, several hundred migrants crossed into New Mexico within a 24-hour period Tuesday. The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico claims the group of 360 undocumented immigrants detained by the United Constitutional Patriots were held at gunpoint near Sunland Park. Video of Tuesday's encounter shows members of the group ordering the migrants to sit while authorities were called.
Benvie told ABC-7's Christina Aguayo that members of his group never pointed guns at the migrants.
"Our form of citizen's arrest out here is a little different," Benvie said, "We use verbal commands. We don't touch people. Our job is to slow down people, have them sit down."
Benvie also told ABC-7 his group is armed for protection. "You can't just assume that everyone who is crossing the border is friendly. And to do that would be foolish. That's why we carry arms. That's why we carry guns," he said.
The actions of the United Constitutional Patriots is now garnering the attention of lawmakers, law enforcement officials and the national media.