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.
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.
There are “international observers” traveling with the caravans, who claim that they are impartial observers. But Holton wrote that he saw them intervene with Mexican officials on behalf of the caravans. One of the “observers” was a Mexican from a group called voces mesoamericanas, two were Spaniards from the Swedish Fellowship of Reconciliation.
About 400 of the caravan riders ended up in Agua Prieta, Sonora, just across the border from Douglas, Ariz.
Members of the brutal cartel did not want the illegal immigrants there, so they rounded them up and put them in a “makeshift concentration camp” on the south side of town, Ashurst said.
“You didn’t see that on CNN, did you?” Ashurst said, adding that there are about five or six murders weekly in that city of about 75,000 residents. Douglas residents have told Ashurst they have recently heard the firing of a 50-caliber machine-gun coming from across the border.
Ashurst said that Mark Hager, a university history professor who has done extensive research on the border, presented him with information on the caravans. His work was performed independently from Holton’s, but is marked by similarities.
The caravans are being organized by socialist leaning groups in Honduras and Venezuela, as well as Soros-funded groups, which provide food and accommodations. They also provide propaganda stating American sanctuary cities are recruiting and needing illegal immigrants.
Ninety percent of the caravan riders are males in their twenties. The cartels are charging up to $7,000 per head to facilitate the passage of people. Chinese people are paying $70,000 per head, Hager said.
Illegal aliens are being transported on Greyhound buses to cities across America at taxpayer expense. The illegal aliens are requesting specific cities, citing familial connections, of which they have no proof.
The patrol agent in charge of the Lordsburg, N.M., Border Patrol Station, said in an email that 6,000 illegal aliens were apprehended in five months ending January 2019, five times the number in the same time period the previous year in that district.
The Lordsburg station was in the news when a 7-year-old Guatemalan girl, Jakelin Caal, died after Border Patrol agents took her into custody. Immigration official told reporters she was sick and vomiting while on a bus en route to the station, news reports said.
The Lordsburg chief agent said the groups his agents are apprehending are usually composed of about 200 illegal aliens, with one group numbering more than 300. Of those taken into custody, between 5 and 20 percent have existing medical conditions or become ill while on the journey from Central America to the U.S. border.
The Lordsburg agents patrol the westernmost section of New Mexico, which has been inundated with illegal immigrants arriving on buses from southern Mexico.
“The exceedingly corrupt government of Mexico and the Mexican drug cartels and the left-wing pro-immigration groups have become blood brothers,” Ashurst said. “They may have different reasons for wanting to breach the border and their plan of attack may be different. But their goals are identical. One of the main things they have in common is their uncanny abilities to manipulate the 21st Century American politicians.”
The cartels, along with their collaborators inside the Mexican government, are experts at maximizing the misery of others, Ashurst said.
“They have no shortage of American dollars at their disposal. And their goal, first and foremost, is to maintain an open border and destroy the sovereignty of the United States.”