Anti-immigrant mob descends on border in support of Texas standoff

The reactionary “border convoy” organized by far-right extremists is nearing its intended destination: Eagle Pass, a small Texas city that has become the epicenter of an ongoing standoff between state law enforcement and federal Customs and Border Patrol officials. 

The convoy is being billed as a “peaceful assembly” by MAGA-affiliated groups and individuals who are anxious about the increase in migrant crossings over the past several years. But concern has been raised about the ranks of the convoy, which include a troubling brew of various right-wing subcultures. 

“Data we collected tells us emphatically that the standoff between Texas and the federal government has become a magnet for far-right vigilantism,” Devin Burghart, the head of the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights, explained at a press briefing yesterday. 

“From the convoy steering committee on down, the protest comprises many of the same dangerous elements as the January 6 insurrection: militia members, election deniers, QAnon conspiracists, COVID deniers, and other hardcore far-righters.” 

The initial group — which billed itself as “God’s Army” — set out from Virginia on Monday with just under 20 vehicles. But since then, it has picked up steam in Dripping Springs, Texas, where an estimated 500 people attended a rally that included conservative celebrities like former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and has-been rock star Ted Nugent. The event was hosted by a known Jan. 6 conspirator, Phil Waldron. 

“It’s treasonous what our own federal government is doing to us. It’s actually sanctioning an invasion, a foreign invasion across our border,” Palin said during the rally. 

Other, less notable guests mixed antisemitic and islamophobia rhetoric during their speeches. Michael Yon, a MAGA influencer who promoted the convoy, claimed that "Venezuela is filled with Hezbollah'' and that the Lebanese militants, alongside Hamas, were sending terrorists over the border. 

He also invoked the “Great Replacement Theory,” which contends that Jewish “elites” are seeking to eliminate white people with mass immigration. 

Organizers of the convoy claimed that the convoy now includes anywhere between 70 to 300 vehicles, though this was unable to be independently verified. They have also urged supporters to rally in Yuma, Ariz. and San Ysidro, Calif.  

And, as VICE reported, the free-flowing form of the convoy and its rally cry has also attracted a variety of armed paramilitary groups not directly tied to the organizers — many of whom have had a regular presence on the border. Such paramilitary forces engage in persistent extrajudicial border patrols.  

In a recent interview conducted by Alex Jones, a key convoy organizer named Peter Chambers painted the effort as one infused with militaristic intentions.  

Right-wing media had spent days before the convoy embarked defending the principles of the movement. In a Jan. 26 show, former Fox News host Tucker Carlson spoke fondly of the organizers. 

“There's not one power center in this country, the media, the government at all levels, and both parties, big business, there's not one power center in the United States that would like to see secure borders. And so of course, we haven't had secure borders,” Carlson said. 

“And now we're being invaded, and no one's really doing anything about it. So it's just a matter of time before citizens who love their country, in many cases who have served their country overseas, decide to get a little more active in protecting their country.”

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Jamie Larson