'How Many More' rally demands gov't response to 'humanitarian crisis' at southern border
Demonstrators will rally outside the Texas statehouse this weekend to demand action in response to the United States-Mexico border crisis, asking lawmakers to "declare an invasion of our southern border" and create a state-funded "Border Protection Unit."
The advocacy group Convention of States Action will host the "How Many More" rally in Austin on Saturday as the number of migrants apprehended crossing the U.S.-Mexico border increased 25% in March to 162,000 for the month. Another advocacy group, Moms for America, is cosponsoring the event and providing bus transportation to and from the statehouse originating in Dallas, Houston, Brenham, Edinburg and Corpus Christi.
The protesters are calling for policymakers to "define Mexican cartels as terror organizations," "seize cartel bank accounts and assets" and "establish a Texas Border Defense Unit to protect Texans." Specifically, demonstrators are calling for the passing of House Bill 20.
Among other things, the bill would empower the state to create a "Border Protection Unit" to "deter and repel persons attempting to enter the [state] illegally at locations outside a port of entry."
The event will feature "real-life victims of the border tragedy" and keynote speakers such as National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference President Samuel Rodriguez, rock star Ted Nugent, Former U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency Deputy Chief of International Operations Jeffrey Stamm, U.S. Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, Goliad County Sheriff Roy Boyd, retired Immigration and Customs Enforcement Supervisory Special Agent Victor Avila.
Mark Meckler, Convention of States Action president, told The Christian Post that the central theme of the rally is asking "how many more young men and women are being sold into sexual slavery" before something is done.
The group's website asks, "how many more … Texas communities must see their hospitals and schools overrun by non-citizens" and "how many more … American dollars must flow to Mexican cartels and their Chinese money launderers?"
"How many more members of American families will we say it's OK to die of [a] fentanyl overdose or fentanyl poisoning as promoted by the international cartels," Meckler said.
"When I've talked to people about this, I've often asked people to take out a piece of paper and write down the number" of people they think is OK to experience sexual slavery, drug overdoses and other adverse effects of the border crisis before they do something to address it, he added.
"And from a Christian perspective for me, I can't look at that piece of paper and write anything but zero," he continued. "So the question then becomes what do I do, as a Christian, as a human being that cares, actually cares about other human beings?"
Meckler views House Bill 20 as an essential first step in addressing the border crisis.
The bill claims it would provide "measures to ensure the safety and welfare of the southern border region of this state, including protection from ongoing activity and public health threats."
The legislation is pending before the State Affairs Committee in the Republican-controlled Texas House. Meckler remains optimistic about the bill's future.
"I believe that the votes are there to pass it out of committee, and I believe there's plenty of votes. I think there are 43 co-sponsors right now in the House, so I believe it has the votes," Meckler maintained. "From there, it would move over to the Senate, and the Senate would consider the House bill. ... We're getting to the point where those bills are about to finalize being crossed over between the Houses. ... But right now, it's sitting in ... the House State Affairs Committee. And we're just waiting for a vote on that."
Meckler sees right now as the time to act because the Texas Legislature is in session. As a biennial Legislature, it only meets every other year, meaning it will not meet again for another two years once this session concludes at the end of May.
As for the action taken by the Texas government to address the border crisis thus far, Meckler characterized it as "better than any other states." But he contends that "it's not nearly enough" and "far less than what the humanitarian crisis requires."
Meckler also discussed the torturous experience women and girls face at the hands of cartels and the "rape trees" that have emerged near the border.
"What you'll find is young women are brought to these places, and they're stripped of their clothing. And their clothing, often their underwear, is hung on the tree sort of as a symbol of victory for these men, and then they will be essentially serially raped ... 10 times, 15 times, 40 times in a day," he said.
"Some of these women don't make it, and they're dead, or they're left for dead. But that's what these trees symbolize. So you'll come across these trees, people have come across these trees and photographed and videotaped them, and what you'll find is dozens of pairs of women's undergarments hanging on these trees, symbolically representing all of the women that have been raped there," he said.
Meckler said that between 30% and 60% of women illegally trafficked to the U.S. face potential "sexual slavery."
He also lamented that over 70,000 people are dying each year of fentanyl poisoning in the U.S.
He views the trafficking of fentanyl in the U.S. as one of many consequences of the failure to take action against the drug cartels that orchestrate mass illegal immigration into the country.
Meckler portrayed the cartels as "highly sophisticated, highly organized transnational businesses" that "literally have bank accounts."
"They run legitimate businesses in addition to illegitimate businesses, not just human trafficking and drug smuggling," he said. "They literally own automobile dealerships. They own avocado ranches. They own cattle ranches. And so, they're taking all of these illicit gains, and they're turning them into legal businesses as well."
"They've essentially taken over the entire country of Mexico," he continued. Labeling the country as "a failed narco-state," Meckler warned, "as you move out into [Mexico] ... the country is largely controlled by the cartels."
Meckler insisted that "nobody comes across that border without paying" the cartels, mentioning that illegal immigrants crossing the border are "usually wearing at least one bracelet, sometimes two of these plastic tag bracelets that indicate where they're to go and how much money they have paid to the cartels or how much they owe the cartels."
He attributed all surges in illegal immigration to the cartels, pushing back on the idea that they are "some random thing where people come running across the border because they decide to."
"These people are staged in the plazas and cities around Mexico and then they are moved to and across the border at the appropriate time, under the instructions of the cartels. So we shouldn't underestimate the sophistication and the monetary prowess, the military prowess of these cartels," he warned.
The influx of illegal immigrants has financial implications. Meckler detailed how "local school districts are being overrun with illegal immigrant children, and they don't have the budget for it."
"You're talking about small towns and big cities, especially in the small towns, they have a limited budget, no ability to raise extra money, and they're really suffering because of this," he said. "They can't educate the legal residents of the community, the kids. And so it's crushing them, it's crushing law enforcement."
Meckler reported that in many small towns, "the jails are full," and officers "can't respond to all the incidents they're seeing now."
The Liberty County community of Plum Grove, located just outside Houston, now "has a colonia, as they call them," Meckler said, referring to a community of "at least 30,000 people living there, the vast majority illegal immigrants."
"As you can imagine, with a town of hundreds, now you have a community of tens of thousands completely overwhelming the town's ability to provide services. So it's creating very dangerous situations," he proclaimed.
When asked why Plum Grove is a target destination for illegal immigrants despite its location so far from the U.S.-Mexico border, Meckler said, "a developer in Plum Grove has created a community that markets directly to illegal immigrants."
Meckler also spoke about a "giant subdivision" within Plum Grove designed for illegal immigrants featuring tents and other substandard properties, which he likened to a "Mexican shanty town."
Meckler urged Christians to consider "how many more women raped along the way, how many more families torn apart by fentanyl, how many more schools have to be overrun, how many children are we going to allow to be sold into sexual slavery?"
"This is really an important thing for every Christian to ask themselves. ... We all know the ugly history of slavery. We have slavery going on in our country and the question people ask themselves is, 'What am I going to do about it?" he said. "It's not enough to complain about it, to know about it, to be frustrated about it."
Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: email@example.com