President Trump’s fear-mongering over the migrant caravan and illegal immigration already has a body count. Eleven people were recently murdered when a right-wing conspiracy theorist attacked a synagogue in the largest anti-semitic mass murder in U.S. history. The gunman believed the migrants were an “invasion” force bankrolled by Jewish people, notably George Soros, who also received a pipe bomb in the mail from another paranoid pro-Trump bigot. With midterms approaching and Trump ratcheting up his rhetoric to beyond fever swamp levels, he might be turning the border into a powder keg about to explode.
Trump recently dispatched 5,200 U.S. troops to the border just in time for the midterm elections, but far in advance of the migrant caravan, which is still weeks away. Leaked U.S. Army documents obtained by Newsweek outline the specifics of the operation (laughably codenamed “Operation Faithful Patriot” and not “Operation GOP Midterm Panic Stunt”). The documents say that there are “200 unregulated armed militia members” along the U.S.-Mexico border.
That’s 200 armed and dangerous cosplayers just itching for their fantasies of war with undocumented immigrants—no matter how bedraggled or desperate for asylum—to become a reality. When you couple that with Trump’s recent statements that any migrant holding a rock should be considered a migrant holding a firearm, you can see how this creates a recipe for disaster.
Trump has walked back comments that the Army would shoot at rock-throwing migrants, saying only that they would be arrested, but which of these directives do you think Militia Mike and the Screamin’ Pantsh*ttin’ Eagles are gonna listen to?
And just when you thought it couldn’t, it gets worse! According to Newsweek, several militia groups are calling for more supporters to flood the border. The Minutemen Project (which you might remember from the time one of their devotees robbed and murdered a man and his nine-year-old daughter in a botched attempt to finance their hobby) have posted a message to their followers reading, “Your presence is needed along the 2,000-mile border from San Diego, California to Brownsville, Texas at any time for the next 90 days.”
The message urges followers to abide by the law and also warns them about interacting with anyone from the news media. “They are not your friends. They work for their globalist, open-border $$-sponsors-$$,” the message reads, in a pretty clear anti-semitic dogwhistle that echoes similar social media posts made by the synagogue gunman.
So they’re turning the whole thing into a militant ComiCon for itchy-trigger-fingered racists who think they’ve got the president’s blessing (and probably do)—what could go wrong??
While U.S. troops are bound by things like orders, the chain of command, and laws that prevent them from carrying out combat missions on U.S. soil, the militiamen aren’t even bound by the strictures of reality. What happens if an armed contingent of right-wing terrorists open fire on migrants seeking asylum? What happens if two armed groups fire on one another? What happens if U.S. troops get caught in the crossfire? This could wind up like the time two hunters shot each other in a paranoid freakout over illegal immigration, blamed the shooting on phantom immigrants, and then got caught in their lie, only on a much grander scale and with severe casualties.
Hope those tax cuts were worth it, Republicans.