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BORDER BREAKDOWN: Militia to Block Ports of Entry

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(KRGV.com) -- Law enforcement officials and city leaders from across the Rio Grande Valley are preparing for what they say could result in tense moments or violence.

Officials say they received word that members of a militia are threatening to block ports of entry.

In Starr County, international bridge authorities met with Customs and Border Protection officials Thursday. Their goal was to discuss the potential problem and find a plan of action.

Starr County has international bridges in Rio Grande City, Roma and Falcon Dam.

Officials received word that members of a militia plan to protest illegal crossings by blocking traffic on Sept. 20.

Rio Grande City Mayor Ruben Villarreal said members of the group have a right to express their opinion. His is concerned about the group's intent, though.

"What can we expect? I don't know. The unknown becomes an issue that we really got to prepare for," Villarreal said.

"I'm a 100 percent sure that with the National Guard, with DPS, with Border Patrol and local law enforcement, we'll communicate and we'll handle whatever comes," he said.

"The level of communication that exists doesn't get talked about enough. It's an extraordinary amount of communication," Villarreal said.

Villarreal said he is worried about safety.

"If they're here to block traffic, to be a hindrance between traffic and the port of entry, that causes a problem. It's a huge safety issue," Villarreal said.

Villarreal said blocking international traffic could impact the local economy.

"A port of entry is not just a port of entry for people; it's also a port of entry for commerce. There are hundreds of millions of dollars that transact at the ports of entry. If their intent is to cause a disruption at a port of entry, it's not only a matter of people, it's a matter of commerce as well," he said.

Villarreal said he is concerned about possible violence.

"I know that the state of Texas provides for them to be able to display their firearms," he said.

"I'm not going to lie to you; it's going to make us nervous. We're not used to seeing firearms being openly displayed," he said.

Villarreal said even though they're not familiar with the militia, they plan to be prepared.

"We've never dealt with militia here in Starr County. We don't know what their temperament is or their personality might be. I can tell you that knowing that they might be here ... helps us prepare for whatever may come," he said.

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