On Saturday, a far-right convoy calling itself “God’s army” is set to host rallies at different border towns along the US-Mexico border to decry what they call a migrant “invasion.” Throughout the week, the group’s organizers made their way from Virginia Beach to Jacksonville, Florida, before splitting into three groups heading to rallies in Yuma, Arizona, San Ysidro, California, and near Eagle Pass, Texas. On a “Take Our Border Back” website, they called on “all active & retired law enforcement and military, veterans, mama bears, elected officials, business owners, ranchers, truckers, bikers, media and LAW ABIDING, freedom-loving Americans.”
HAPPENING NOW: In San Ysidro, California, the stage is set and dozens of people have started gathering for the third leg of the Take Our Border Back Convoy. The group will have a rally and then caravan to Yuma, Arizona. Follow our live blog for updates: https://t.co/KmiUpgdBNt pic.twitter.com/37G3NzAe9q
— Border Report (@BorderReportcom) February 3, 2024
The convoy, whose organizers have been known to disseminate anti-vaccine and election denial messages, as well as QAnon conspiracy theories, emerged in reaction to growing tensions around an ongoing border standoff between Gov. Greg Abbott and the federal government in Eagle Pass, Texas. The Lone Star State’s National Guard has taken control of a park there, sealing it off with concertina wire and denying US Border Patrol access to the migrant crossing area where a woman and two children recently drowned in the Rio Grande.
Abbott’s defiance has earned support from Donald Trump, House Speaker Mike Johnson, and 25 Republican governors. “My thoughts are that the feds are staging a civil war, and Texas should stand their ground,” Rep. Clay Higgins (R-La.) posted on X.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told the Associated Press it was “unconscionable for a public official to deliberately refuse to communicate, coordinate, collaborate with other public officials in the service of our nation’s interests, and to refuse to do so with the hope of creating disorder for others.”
This is not over.
Texas’ razor wire is an effective deterrent to the illegal crossings Biden encourages.
I will continue to defend Texas’ constitutional authority to secure the border and prevent the Biden Admin from destroying our property.https://t.co/pV7Cuq57d1
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) January 22, 2024
As my colleague Kiera Butler wrote this week, initial reports showed that the scope of the convoy came nowhere close to the organizers’ hopes for 700,000 participants. And though those involved have described the nature of the gathering as peaceful (one organizer called it a “spiritual battle”), Butler noted that extremism experts haven’t discounted the possibility of an escalation and political violence, especially in light of extremist online chatter about “exterminating” migrants:
Devin Burghart, the president and executive director of the extremism tracking group Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights] said that even if the convoy doesn’t amount to much, he worries that it could lead to growth of anti-immigration extremist groups over the coming months. “That’s the kind of thing that happens with these border things—in the aftermath, you have an increase in paramilitary activity around the border, extrajudicial efforts to round up undocumented immigrants,” he said. He noted the 2009 murder of Brisenia and Raul Junior Flores in an Arizona border town, perpetrated by members of a splinter group of the high-profile Minutemen militia.
At a Thursday pep rally of about 200 vehicles in Dripping Springs, Texas, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin told some 1,000 attendees: “The eyes of the world are on Texas right now. Now, more than ever, it’s required of us to stand up and fight for what’s right, because it’s unconscionable, it’s treasonous, what our own federal government is doing to us in actually sanctioning an invasion, a foreign invasion, of our country.”
Ahead of Saturday, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) issued a national alert warning against “armed out-of-state extremists with a hate agenda.”
LULAC, the League of United Latin American Citizens, is issuing an immediate National Alert, only the second in the organization’s nearly 100-year history.https://t.co/JkBEar7ei5#LULAC #Latinos #Latinas pic.twitter.com/kJOmeEwI61
— LULAC (@LULAC) January 29, 2024
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.