Militia groups and far-right activists are gearing up to head to the Mexican border to try to stop a migrant caravan from entering the United States, as conservatives and the far-right escalate their warnings about the supposed dangers it poses.
Earlier this week, the U.S. Border Patrol warned landowners in Texas that they could expect “possible armed civilians” on their property because of the news about the caravan. The exact details of when and where the militia would deploy are unclear, but one militia leader told the Associated Press that they would have upwards of 100 members guarding the Mexico-Texas border.
“They’re just laughing in our face,” Shannon McGauley, president of the Texas Minutemen, said. “It’s a free-for-all in America.” Another militia supporter, Monica Marin, from Oregon, said that she raised around $4,000 online to help militias with supplies and equipment.
“I see young, fighting-age men who do not look like they’re starving. They look like they’re ready to fight,” Marin told the AP. “We’re trained. [But] we’re not hotheads. We’re not out there to shoot people.”
Militia members, as well as other far-right activists and “patriot” groups, have pounced on the Trump administration’s rhetoric about the caravan, including that it might be funded by George Soros and include ISIS terrorists. Naturally there is no actual evidence to back this up, and misinformation about the caravan is rife online.
According to one senior administration official who spoke to the Daily Beast however, the Trump administration is aware of its own mistruths, but it doesn’t matter as long as it drums up Republican support in time for the midterms.
Tons of misinformation about the caravan floating around. This photo of a bloodied police officer has tens of thousands of shares on a few big FB pages. It was taken in 2012, and has nothing to do with the caravan. pic.twitter.com/CPxPBygbRv
— Kevin Roose (@kevinroose) October 22, 2018
The misinformation floating around about the scope of the migrant caravan has also led to additional false reports about those setting out to “secure the border.”
For example, the pro-Trump sections of Facebook are awash with fake news about how — in addition to the militias — bikers are also heading to Texas to help secure the border, a fake story parts of the pro-Trump internet have repeatedly fallen for.
Pro-Trump Facebook is always falling for hoaxes about huge armies of Bikers for Trump. Previously the bikers saved Kavanaugh and made Mueller resign, now they're going to fight the caravan. pic.twitter.com/NUu47gpIax
— Will Sommer (@willsommer) October 24, 2018
However, not everyone on the border is thrilled by the prospect of militias heading through their towns. As Arizona Family reports, the town of Arivaca has put up signs saying that militias are not welcome their because, in the words of one resident “they’re posting all kinds of falsehood.”
According to the AP more than 1,700 members of the caravan had already applied for refugee status in Mexico, but thousands more remain determined to head to the U.S. border. Whether they arrive or not is another issue — of the 4,000 migrants who headed to the Tijuana/San Diego crossing earlier this year, only 200 reached the U.S. border.