(Eagle Pass) They came in vans and caravans and identified themselves as “fighters for God”: In Texas, hundreds of Americans have been rallying for days to protest an “invasion” of immigrants at the Mexican border.
“Join God's Fight” can be read on the body of one of the vehicles arriving at a farm in Quemato, a Texan town of 162 people with old houses in the middle of a valley where the Rio Grande runs. The natural border between the United States and Mexico.
Thousands of migrants cross the river every month, making long journeys from Central and South America in search of better living conditions in the United States.
“Migration at the border is out of control. We're being invaded and we have to control what's happening,” Robin Forzano, 43, who controls access to Quemato Farm, told AFP.
Immigration is at the center of the presidential campaign in the United States, with former President Donald Trump the favorite for the Republican nomination and who will face Democrat Joe Biden in November.
On the banks of the Rio Grande these activists, describing themselves as “We, the People,” decided to gather precisely on the first words of the preamble to the United States Constitution.
A few days ago, one of the organizers of the event said that the participants formed an “army of God”.
Under the slogan “Let's take back our border”, they will come in convoys from different parts of the country and camp around the border towns this weekend.
We see many banners in support of Donald Trump. “Heaven has walls, Hell has open borders,” read one sign, a reference to the “wall” the former president wanted to build to block the way for immigrants.
“The people in Mexico, they're wonderful, wonderful people, and I love them,” assured AFP Marty Bird, 73, a Donald Trump supporter in the neighboring town of Eagle Pass.
“But they seem to have been here once […] They get angry. They steal and steal,” he said.
The city of Eagle Pass is at the center of a battle involving legal complaints between the Biden administration and Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott, including to the United States Supreme Court.
An outspoken supporter of Donald Trump, Mr. Abbott openly flouted the Biden administration's authority, accusing it of “deliberate inaction” in dealing with the influx of registered immigrants at the border in recent months.
A barbed wire fence installed by Texas officials near the border town of Eagle Pass is the subject of a legal battle with the federal government.
Also, the January 11 Texas National Guard takeover of a municipal park in Eagle Pass, which borders the Rio Grande, has fueled controversy between Texas and the Democratic administration.
The arrival of these convoys of demonstrators was not welcomed by all.
Jessie Fuentes, who rents kayaks on the river, calls it a “disaster zone.”
“Some groups claiming to be God's army are coming to our society to spread hatred,” he told AFP. “I worry because it's not us.”
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