The Congressional Research Service (CRS), the public policy research arm of the U.S. Congress, stated in its Apr. 7, 2006 report titled "Civilian Patrols Along the Border: Legal and Policy Issues":

“The phenomenon of civilians taking it upon themselves to patrol the border has existed in a wide variety of forms for at least a hundred and fifty years. Some are informal or ad hoc groupings of citizens, while others are highly organized and well funded groups that actively recruit members. Over the past fifteen years civilian border patrol organizations appear to have proliferated along the U.S.-Mexico border. Though the reasons for their formation vary, many of the groups were organized in response to an apparent lack of federal resources at the border and to the significant increases in illegal entries.”

Apr. 7, 2006