Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s multi-billion dollar Operation Lone Star has opened the door for extremists to set up camp in Texas border cities. In Kinney County, Texas, Sheriff Brad Coe has embraced the Patriots for America (PFA) and Women Fighting for America (WFFA) – armed private citizens with no legal authority to patrol the border or arrest migrants for trespassing.
Such has been the case for decades when militias felt the federal government wasn’t doing enough to stop what they have continuously referred to as an invasion—knowingly using the same dog whistles that have been in use since the days of the Ku Klux Klan and beyond. They portray the United States as endangered because of migrants of color.
Meanwhile, the groups at the border are unsurprisingly associated with the enemies from within that tried to overthrow the U.S. government on January 6, 2021. Christie Hutcherson of WFFA spoke at a January 5, 2021 rally in Washington D.C. She then posted a live stream of herself at the Washington Monument on January 6, the day of the infamous attack on the Capitol.
Hutcherson then ventured to Kinney County near Del Rio, Texas in September alongside a group of armed WFFA members to employ the use of a drone to track and capture migrants. PFA, another extremist group, is also present in Kinney County to purportedly “disrupt and interfere” with asylum-seekers traveling to the U.S. via the Southern Border.
On January 12, 2021, PFA’s leader Samuel Hall was escorted off the grounds of the Texas State Capitol after warnings were issued by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) about terrorist attacks leading up to the inauguration of President Joe Biden. He was carrying an AR-15. Earlier this year, Uvalde’s mayor willingly allowed PFA to operate in the city, reported the LA Times in May.
Their presence at the border signals many things. A lack of faith in law enforcement and federal authorities at the border with Mexico. Their motivations are based on white nationalist xenophobia and QAnon conspiracy theories about child and drug trafficking. They represent the deadly conspiracy-theory-riddled divide in the United States and no one is stopping them.
Law Enforcement’s Role
Law enforcement at the border allows members of these hate groups to interview asylum-seeking children using a translator that barely speaks Spanish. They don’t accept anyone’s answers as truth and automatically assume everyone is being trafficked using dubious qualifiers. They record these interactions and post them on social media without providing any context or proper translations.
They use migrants as background to invent narratives painting them as criminals.
The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), the Texas National Guard, Customs and Border Protection (CBP), local police, and county sheriff’s offices all allow so-called “militias” free reign in border communities. The “law enforcement” available in the Lone Star State refuses to stop hate groups from illegally operating out in the open as they clearly share similar beliefs. They didn’t stop an extremist mass murderer who was driven by hate in Uvalde either.
In an environment where Blue Lives Matter/Thin Blue Line extremism has a grip on the community, hate groups that show allyship with police typically get away with a lot of criminal activity. It was apparent when police allowed Kyle Rittenhouse to enter an area that was under strict police control and he murdered two people. It shows when law enforcement looks away and allows radicalized white men to plan and conduct terrorist attacks on the United States.
When the public (myself included) issued warnings to DHS and the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) about the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol – using Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) gleaned from social media platforms and far-right channels – they ignored it. Similarly, local and federal law enforcement continue to look away from illegal far-right activity.
Despite all of this, the federal government under both Donald Trump and Joe Biden respectively continues to pump billions of dollars into policing without addressing any underlying issues. The absolute refusal to address why police can show restraint with white mass murderers but not with unarmed Black people and Latinos speaks volumes. The United States blindly giving police more money while not addressing the white supremacist infiltration of law enforcement is telling.
Mayor McLaughlin’s Role
This brings us to Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin. In May, McLaughlin told the LA Times that if Biden were to lift Title 42 allowing asylum seekers to come to the U.S. again, he has a plan to shut down the highway that goes through town in a protest titled “Border Lives Matter”. This gives you an idea of where the next far-right culture war is headed.
McLaughlin also told the LA Times he expects Abbott to declare the entry of asylum-seekers an “invasion” invoking a constitutional provision that’s never been used before to expel migrants without their constitutionally protected right to due process – something Abbott has previously entertained after it was suggested by Trump sycophant Ken Cuccinelli earlier this year.
“It’s already an invasion. It’s going to get worse,” Hall told the LA Times while in Uvalde meeting with McLaughlin. During that meeting, McLaughlin said Hall convinced him to allow PFA to operate within the city. The majority Latino community already lives on edge due to the massive law enforcement presence that targets Latinos every day.
Adding a heavily-armed extremist group to the overly policed city only serves to create an even more toxic and dangerous environment for Latinos in Uvalde. With only one small part of the area housing the less than 20% of white people that live there, it’s easy to see where all that police presence is most active. Especially when law enforcement constantly stops Latinos who live there as if they may be undocumented or transporting migrants across the border.
Allowing hate groups to work alongside police and federal law enforcement will only add to the explosion of hate we’re experiencing as a country. Extremist groups have a long sordid history of committing rape, brutal assaults, robbery, and murder of migrants dating back decades. The history of these types of crimes is as broad as similar crimes at the hands of CBP agents.
*I reached out to the Uvalde Mayor asking why he allowed an armed QAnon hate group to operate within the city. I have not received a response as of this writing.