QUEMADO, Texas — Trump 2024 flags waved alongside Christian flags as a crowd gathered at a rural Texas ranch to denounce the president and people crossing the nearby Rio Grande into the United States.
Many who came to the border town of Kemado for the “Take Back Our Border” rally on Friday said they gathered as Christians who oppose lawlessness and do so peacefully. On the rally grounds, musicians, vendors, political signs and colorful clothing contrasted with the razor wire, camouflage uniforms and weapons 20 miles south of the border at Eagle Pass.
The group arrived around 8pm local time on Friday and converged on a two-lane country road, forming a long queue of mostly private or rental cars and recreational vehicles.
They were carried by a man on horseback Christian flag — a white banner with a blue square and a red cross in the upper left corner — three commercial trucks and several buses pass one by one through the only open entrance to the site.
The convoy was first Calculated as 700,000 trucks he was going to head from Virginia to three points on the border, but that didn’t happen.
However, people flocked to Texas along the way, driving cars, recreational vehicles, and trucks towing campers. When they reached the Texas border, the organizers said the number of the convoy was about 200. NBC News could not independently verify that number, but observed at least 100 vehicles.
Dorothy Richards, 67, a retiree from New Braunfels, attended the convoy’s rally in Dripping Springs, Texas, near Austin, but arrived before the convoy. Take Our Border Back organizers held the Dripping Springs event at the whiskey distillery, where Richards said free beer mugs were handed out.
On Friday, he carried a Texas flag, but then replaced it with a sign supporting Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who is facing off against President Joe Biden over immigration. “Biden had a chance,” he said.
“Governor Abbott and TX NG [National Guard] SECURE THE BORDER,” Richards’ sign read.
The Biden administration and Abbott they collided Immigration enforcement as Abbott allows immigrants to wait for hearings in Democratic-led US cities manages its own border protection. Abbott is using the Texas National Guard and state police to arrest people who cross into the US illegally and build razor wire along the border. Border patrol agents said there was some movement prevents them from doing their jobs.
Richards said the standoff over immigration could lead to civil war, but he saw it as necessary. “What will we do? We have to step back and let it happen [illegal immigration] happening?” he asked.
The event could easily have been a Trump rally with flags, MAGA hats and even a cardboard Trump. Some took it even further with a hearse with “Trump 2024” emblazoned on the front door and “pick up democrat votes one dead at a time” in big letters on the back.
Alma Arredondo-Lynch, 67, of Konkan, Texas, wore a rhinestone “Women for Trump” brooch and a wide-brimmed hat as she walked the ranch. Thursday’s rain and lightning were pushed aside by bright sunshine and warm temperatures on Saturday.
“I believe that if we don’t have a border, we don’t have sovereignty. “If we don’t have sovereignty, we won’t have civilization,” he said. Drug cartels own and control the border, he said.
Like several others, he said he was not opposed to people coming to the border, but that they should come legally.
The rally was largely peaceful, except for some clashes with a few demonstrators who claimed to belong to the Street Speakers group. They began protesting late Friday night, but were forced to cross the street by the caravan and rally organizers. They are holding anti-LGBTQ and anti-Islamophobia signs.
Organizers used their whistles to separate the protesters and signal to the rally participants that they did not agree with the protesters’ views.
But some rally attendees didn’t shy away from the anti-immigration rhetoric used by Abbott, Trump and others, which raised alarm. Trump said that immigrants “to poison the blood Our country.” Abbott caused some backlash when he said the state was not shooting people illegal border crossers, because then Biden would accuse government officials of “murder.”
Abbott planned to host several Republican governors in Eagle Pass on Sunday for a press conference on immigration and the border.
Scotty Clay of Alpena, Arkansas, who did not give his age, responded to a question about Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric: “Sometimes Trump stirs the pot … just to get the voice out of the media.”
“We are in a state of war within our own country. It is on our southern border,” he said.
Doug Pagitt, pastor and executive director of Voice for the Common Good, was also at the ranch and in Eagle Pass over the weekend to counter claims that conservative and far-right groups are forming an “army of God” — as the organizers of the rally described themselves — and faith leaders who disagree with them or Abbott. to support.
“When you hear people like this truck brigade saying they’re God’s army and they’re advocating things that sound like Christian nationalist ideas, targeting places like Eagle Pass,” Pagitt said. The belief that Christianity is the standard religion for the nation and that it is what makes the United States great.
“A lot of people are here to say the governor shouldn’t listen to federal law. It sounds a bit like a rebellion,” he said.
He said the convoy may be peaceful, but it attracts other groups that want to commit violence. He said he and other faith leaders were advised by Eagle Pass police not to hold an outdoor hot dog cookout and prayer walk. Police could not guarantee their safety at Shelby Park on Sunday.
Standing in front of the farm’s entrance Friday afternoon, Marco Castillo, 29, of Eagle Pass, said the rally participants should have been in the area in December, when passes are more common.
“What is all this for? For the show,” he said, adding that he saw Dr. Phil’s helicopter in the sky. “Show me.”
He said he saw no need for Abbott’s Operation Lone Star enforcement operation to be at Eagle Pass “because of what they brought.”