Three weeks ago Robert Crooks made the decision to leave his Nevada home and return back to the U.S.-Mexico border in California.
“This is neighborhood watch, I call it, I haul it,” Crooks said as he stood guard along the top of Patriot Point in Campo.
Crooks is the founder and leader of Mountain Minute Men. He told NBC 7 that once he learned about the migrant caravan he decided to bring his group to the border to serve as watchdogs for any illegal border crossings.
“I call the Border Patrol, I have them on speed dial,” he said. “I’ve been up here a really long time.”
Crooks said he started his group in 2005 during the height of vigilante groups seeking to increase patrol along remote parts of the border.
“I have nothing against immigration in this country as long as it’s done legally,” he said. “Desperate people do desperate things, hence we’re on a heightened alert out here.”
Many in the migrant caravan are seeking asylum through official points of entries, but Crooks said Sunday’s confrontation between migrants and Customs and Border Patrol is enough to have him living in his truck armed with a radio, binoculars and a cell phone, watching and waiting.
“If there’s no one here to watch it, then there’s no one to call it,” Crooks said.
More than 5,000 active-duty troops are along the California border, as attention is growing on the migrant caravan camped out in Tijuana, Mexico. With growing barriers and an additional 300 troops recently dispatched to the border, Crooks said he’s worried attention along the San Ysidro Port of Entry is taking away focus from where more agents and troops should be.
“The dog and pony show in San Ysidro is great, the big show of troops, barriers, concertina wire, but this is where they have to be,” he said referencing the remote stretched of the border, like the fence between Campo and Tecate, Mexico.
In regards to the Minute Men group, Customs and Border Protection said they don’t endorse or support any private group taking matters into their own hands. But, they do strongly encourage concerned citizens to call the Border Patrol if they witness or suspect any illegal activity.