Armed, independent border guards go by names like the “Patriots” and “Citizen Defenders,” but they don’t like to be called what they are: militia. Well, that’s just too bad because that’s what they are.

Reuters followed a group of armed militia along the Texas stretch of the Rio Grande to get a sense of their day-to-day routine, which consisted of lugging around assualt rifles and shining “illegals,” as the militiamen called them, at night with spotlights like wild animals.

“If you spot them and shine your light on them, that lets them know you’re there,” said Will, a 25-year-old member of the militia group called the “Patriots.” “Nine times out of 10, they’re not going to come over.”

Currently, there are about 22 armed militias that operate along the U.S.-Mexico border from Texas to California. Although there are times when the armed militias have helped the U.S. Border Patrol, they have proven to be a “nuisance.” The Dallas Morning News reported that members of the U.S. Border Patrol believe that the armed militias increase the threat of danger along the borders.

“We really don’t need the militia here,” said Cameron County Sheriff Omar Lucio. “It just creates a problem from my point of view, because we don’t know who they are.”

Some of the militiamen clearly have no idea with what they’re dealing with exactly. A rancher said that “illegals” poisoned his dogs and fired shots near his house; the militias have been patrolling near that area. Food for thought, “illegals” aren’t going to shoot at someone’s house and poison their dogs; they light out for the states to find work and a better life. This sounds like the work of Mexican cartels, which the armed militias are supremely under qualified to deal with.

Echoing what Tod Robberson of the Dallas Morning News wrote about the armed militias, “go back to paintball.” Many of these armed militia members are either former military who want to relive their service years by playing soldier, those too incompetent or scared to join the military, or men who never grew out of playing army in the woods near their home as a kid.

These men are not “Patriots” nor do they defend American citizens; they just saved up their money, bought a few guns, and bought some fatigues from the local military surplus store.

Josh is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire. Follow him on Twitter @dnJdeli.