This is the first of a series on illegal immigration at the southern border, highlighting speeches delivered at a meeting Saturday in Deming, N.M.
Caravans of illegal aliens are at pace for nearly one million crossing border this year
DEMING, N.M. — “The border is not secure,” said Ed Ashurst, an author and rancher at the forefront of the battle to inform the public of the dangers of illegal immigration. “I believe the United States of America is in a watershed moment.”
Ashurst was among a panel of seven speakers who addressed a gathering of about 400 residents of New Mexico and Arizona Saturday afternoon. They spoke on topics including the forces behind the unprecedented caravans of illegal immigrants, assaults on borderland ranchers, the misuse of federal resources and potential diseases carried by the border crossers.
Panel members and attendees said this is a national emergency, and that they support President Donald Trump’s efforts to build barriers and provide resources to prevent illegal immigration, human trafficking and smuggling of deadly drugs such as fentanyl and heroin.
The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, charged with preventing illegal immigration and smuggling at and between ports of entry, reported that 76,000 illegal immigrants were taken into custody in February — the largest number in 12 years.
Speakers at the meeting Saturday said the southern border is wide open in many spots, and the organized efforts to flood America with up to a million more this year will have tremendous negative consequences, including dangers presented by criminals, economic impact of services including education and health care and possible diseases affecting humans and animals.
Ashurst, 67, an Arizona native from a pioneer family who has lived on ranches near the border for more than 20 years, said one of the main problems behind the massive influx of illegal immigration is that Border Patrol agents are mostly stationed miles north of the border.
“There are large sections of the international border, 60 to 70 miles in length, with no federal presence,” Ashurst said.
This is an element of an “in-depth strategy” implemented by the Border Patrol, largely attributed to Richard Aguilar, who served as the acting commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the parent agency of Border Patrol, during the Obama administration. Aguilar was credited with publicly pronouncing that the border was not a specific line, but a “third country” between the United States and Mexico.
“Have you ever been notified where the capital of this third country is, so I can send my taxes to it?” Ashurst said, sparking much laughter from a crowd which included many people living in the Borderland.
In 2010, Lt. Col. (retired) Oliver North visited the ranch where Ashurst lives. He was working on documentaries called “War Stories.” He was accompanied by Chuck Holton, a freelance war correspondent and former U.S. Army Ranger who has worked with North on his films and books.
When the caravans of illegal immigrants began forming last year in southern Mexico, Holton was sent there to report on them.
Ashurst shared some of the information he received from Holton.
The migrants are not being paid to join the caravans, but they are being supported and encouraged to join by opposition political elements within Honduras, who are supported by the Venezuelan government, Holton said in his report.
Many of the people joining the caravans said they saw the advertising for it on social media and heard about it on local news in Honduras.
The Mexican government, which is complicit in facilitating the passage of thousands of illegal immigrants, was passing out pamphlets in southern Mexico, telling the caravan riders of seven sanctuary cities which were the best places for them to go to receive free services.
They are being organized by a consortium of left-wing pro-immigration groups including the U.N. International Organization for Migration, and the International Migration Institute, a (billionaire George) Soros-funded organization, said a report written by Holton.
Although the Honduran government officially discourages the caravans, the nation will benefit by letting citizens migrate to the United States, because illegal immigrants here will send money back to that impoverished nation, Ashurst said. Money sent to Honduras from Hondurans in America accounts for 20 percent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Probably hundreds or more of the illegal immigrants in these caravans have been deported at least once, which would make them felons, the Holton report said. Two of the illegal immigrants told the correspondent they had each been deported four times.
The vast majority of those who are joining the caravans from Honduras would not qualify for asylum in America if they applied through normal channels. Every migrant to whom Holton spoke said he was going to America for economic reasons.
Illegal immigrants who join the caravans are coached to check the box that they are seeking asylum for “reasonable fear of persecution or torture,” in order to receive a notice to appear at a hearing in the United States. Then almost all of them fail to appear in court for their hearings.
Holton reported that caravans that were assembling in Tapachula, Mexico, included Somalis, Bangladeshis, Indians, Nepalese, Eritreans, Pakistanis and citizens from other nations.
One group of citizens of India told Holton they flew into Mexico to take advantage of the caravans.