A convoy of trucks, campers, cars, and vans, spanning states such as South Dakota, North Carolina, Washington, and Pennsylvania, recently concluded its days-long journey at a ranch near the Rio Grande in Quemado, Texas. The gathering, held on Saturday, served as the final stop for conservative Americans expressing frustration, fear, and anger over what they perceive as a broken immigration system.
Chosen for its proximity to Eagle Pass, a focal point in the ongoing dispute between the Biden administration and Texas Governor Greg Abbott over border security, the Quemado location drew participants from various regions. Other convoys reached the border in Yuma, Arizona, and San Ysidro, California, all with the common goal of advocating for stricter controls on migrants entering the country.
Despite concerns about potential violence, the Texas rally, described as part political protest and part Christian revival, attracted a modest crowd at the Cornerstone Children’s Ranch. Attendees, many of whom were retirees, joined the convoy spontaneously after learning about it through social media or local news.
George Barton, 73, and his wife Terrie, 71, from Dripping Springs, Texas, expressed their concerns about the lack of enforcement of immigration laws. Elias Mata, a 70-year-old resident of Eagle Pass, voiced support for Governor Abbott, stating that he believes Abbott is doing the right thing.
The rally occurred against the backdrop of an escalating legal battle between Texas and the federal government over the deployment of concertina wire in Eagle Pass and the takeover of a riverside municipal park by state law enforcement officers.
With December recording a record-breaking 302,000 encounters with unauthorized migrants, tensions between the federal government and Republican state leaders have heightened. The dispute has involved heated rhetoric, with Governor Abbott and others referring to the influx of migrants as an “invasion.”
The rally attendees wore T-shirts with slogans echoing defiance, reminiscent of historic Texas conflicts, as the dispute continues. Concerns about violence against migrants or federal border patrol processing centers prompted U.S. Customs and Border Protection to take “appropriate and necessary actions” to ensure safety.
Some rally participants expressed worries about potential civil unrest, with Rod Parker, a revivalist pastor and one of the organizers, stating that they are there to pray against such outcomes.
Twenty-five Republican governors pledged support for Texas in its confrontation with the federal government, with Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida announcing the deployment of National Guard troops to assist in border control efforts.
Democrats, immigration advocates, and civil rights groups accused Governor Abbott and other Republicans of exacerbating the issue. Vanessa Cárdenas, the executive director of America’s Voice, drew parallels to the events of January 6, referring to the storming of the U.S. Capitol by supporters of former President Donald J. Trump.
Governor Abbott’s Operation Lone Star, a state-level enforcement program at the border, has expanded in the last two years, concentrating efforts on Eagle Pass. The legal battle will continue later this month, as Abbott defends a new law allowing law enforcement officers across Texas to arrest migrants crossing without permission.
Originally aimed at Eagle Pass, Saturday’s rally was relocated to Cornerstone Children’s Ranch, with organizers advising against traveling to the city to avoid potential confrontations. The peaceful gathering featured Christian music, speeches, and an overtly religious atmosphere that surprised some attendees. Despite expectations of a more politically charged event, participants described it as a “Trump rally without Trump.”