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The Border Convoy Is Nearing Its Final Destination—With Vigilantes And Far-Right Extremists In Tow

Sarah Palin, the former governor of Alaska and the late senator John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign running mate, introduced musician Ted Nugent, who called President Biden a “piece of shit.”

Elected officials were also present: Republican Texas state representative Carrie Isaac repeated the conspiracy about “terrorists at the border.” She was introduced onstage by Chris Burr, a board member of the Texas GOP.

Though tensions surrounding immigration have been simmering for a while, the most recent crisis was sparked earlier this month when the US Supreme Court lifted an order by a lower court and sided with the Biden administration to rule that Border Patrol agents could remove razor wire installed by the Texas National Guard and state troopers. Rather than stand down, Texas governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, replied in a letter that Texas has the right to “defend and protect” itself against an “invasion” of migrants, adding that this “is the supreme law of the land and supersedes any federal statutes to the contrary.”

The vast majority of the GOP has backed Abbott, including more than two dozen Republican governors, Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, and former president Donald Trump, who called for National Guard troops from other states to be sent to Texas.

The rhetoric from the right has continued to ratchet up. “This is an invasion from third-world countries,”Texas’ lieutenant governor Dan Patrick told Fox News. “They’re coming here with health issues, they’re uneducated, unemployed, and all they do is commit crime on the streets.”

Since the standoff began, there has been “an online explosion of invasion and great replacement rhetoric, the idea that white people are somehow being displaced intentionally with immigrants,” said Heidi Beirich, cofounder of the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism. “We’ve seen white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups all taking advantage of the standoff to push their propaganda and recruit new members.”

On Friday, the convoy will reportedly conclude in Quemado, Texas, and the Cornerstone Children’s Ranch, a humanitarian charity which provides food and support for low-income families in the US and across the border in Mexico. “The people that are coming here are doing a religious prayer for the border,” Lori Mercer, the director of the organization tells WIRED, adding: “We have to be peacemakers.”

The location was picked by Pete Chambers, one of the people organizing the convoy, who claims to be a former Green Beret. Last week, Chambers spoke with school-shooting conspiracist Alex Jones about how the convoy planned to travel to the border to hunt migrants in collaboration with sympathetic law enforcement. Other convoy organizers have said that the effort is “peaceful” and that they are not going to the border. But comments made by members of the group on livestreams, online videos, and in Telegram channels indicate that not everyone feels that way.

“We will engage decisively, and if it gets worse, in the infantry we call it ‘fix bayonets,’” Chambers told a pastor in one online video this week, adding: “That’s war, we don’t want to go there, but that’s where we’re at right now.”