An anti-immigration protest group threatening to “shut down all ports of entry” in four southern border states backed out of plans to do so mere hours before the event was scheduled to take place Saturday morning. Lead organizer Stasyi Barth claimed that the protest was cancelled because a cartel was “threatening a blood bath” at the border.
Barth said she was suspicious after receiving multiple social media requests to join the “Shut Down All Ports Of Entry” Facebook page from Sonora, Mexico, and another organizer was allegedly followed and told not to attend. The move comes at a time when militia members have sharply increased their presence along the border in an effort to combat the the influx of children fleeing into the United States, most from Central America.
On its now-changed website, organizers called on Americans to meet at 16 locations in Arizona, Texas, New Mexico, and California to get “enough people to shut down your desired port” and coordinate stopping their vehicles at ports of entry along the U.S. southern border.
Barth told right-wing site Breitbart that cartels had “people at every port listed… waiting for us, so I was told.” She said, “Cartel threatening mass blood shed. One of the guys in Texas was followed into a Walmart, on the freeway, then approached at his hotel. At the same time, I got a bunch of requests to join the [Facebook] page from Sonora Mexico. I grabbed as many as I could, but realized it was getting out of control fast and I didn’t want them to see who the attendees were. This is after it was requested that we avoid certain areas, because of the recent border threats, unrelated to us. The cartel has people at every port listed..waiting for us, so I was told.”
But even Breitbart was skeptical of the legitimacy of the threat, noting, “While the protest calling for the shut-down of the bridges had a big following on social media, it remains unclear if there were any protesters actually willing to shut down the bridge.”
While it’s unclear whether the event would have gained many attendees beyond the followers who replied to the Facebook invite (if even that), this is not the first time that anti-immigration groups have unsuccessfully gathered more than a few supporters to attend similar events. The “National Day of Protesting Against Immigration Reform, Amnesty & Border Surge” event in July, a nationwide protest against mostly Central American children fleeing violence arriving at the southern border, garnered few attendees and were often overwhelmed by immigration advocates who counter-protested to support both migrant children fleeing violence and undocumented immigrants already here.
Still, the number of protesters and groups taking matters into their own hands has ticked up over the past few months, much to the chagrin of some law enforcement officials. Early September, three militia members in Arizona mistook a group of conservationists for border crossers and ambushed them on ATVs. Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada condemned the act, stating that his county “does not welcome border militia groups.” Another instance in late August resulted in a border patrol agent who gave chase to several suspects before firing several rounds toward an armed militia member who was in the vicinity holding either a shotgun or a rifle. The militia member immediately dropped his weapon. Even so, the vigilante movement may likely become more problematic as some Texas state officials have either praised or failed to denounce their actions.