The presence of right-wing militia groups has made attempting to navigate the border even more precarious for migrants and their families. Last week, The New York Times reported that a group operating out of New Mexico detained hundreds of migrants at gunpoint.
The group — known as the United Constitutional Patriots (UCP) — uploaded videos of their actions to social media. Outside donations play a big role in Crowdfunding UCP’s funding strategy and crowdfunding platforms have been a big asset for them, until now. Recently, both PayPal and GoFundMe banned the group from using their services, as reported by BuzzFeed News.
Both PayPal and GoFundMe have policies regarding the promotion of hate or violence. It seems the group was removed in violation of those policies, as a PayPal spokesperson told BuzzFeed:
“The account associated with United Constitutional Patriots has been closed due to a violation of our Acceptable Use Policy. We do not allow PayPal services to be used to promote hate, violence, or other forms of intolerance that is discriminatory.”
Mark Cheney — who identified himself as the commander of UCP — told BuzzFeed, “They killed us. I have to find some other way for people to donate.”
The presence of militia groups like UCP has increased over the past few years. According to BuzzFeed News, UCP refers to immigration as an “invasion,” echoing the language of President Donald Trump.
In a statement, the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico called on the governor and attorney general to investigate the group. The ACLU noted that the group has “no authority under New Mexico or federal law to detain or arrest migrants in the United States.”
This isn’t the first time that there have been issues around online fundraising campaigns. Last month, GoFundMe announced it would be removing anti-vax campaigns spreading misinformation. However, GoFundMe came under fire in 2014 for defending a campaign raising money for Darren Wilson,the Ferguson police officer who killed Michael Brown.
On Thursday, New Mexico’s Attorney General Hector Balderas released a statement regarding the group, saying, “These individuals should not attempt to exercise authority reserved for law enforcement.”
Groups like UCP are only able to thrive by using platforms such as GoFundMe and PayPal. It is up to these companies to ensure their platforms aren’t being used to actually give money to hate.