McALLEN, Texas—Not content with watching from afar, a group of mothers headed to the U.S.–Mexico border to see firsthand the new border security measures being put in place with help from the U.S. military.
The trip to McAllen, Texas, was organized by Moms for America (MFA), a nonprofit founded in 2004 as HomeMakers for America.
“Protecting our borders is something of grave concern to mothers on both sides of the border,” MFA President Kimberly Fletcher said in a statement. “No one is covering the moms’ view in the news. No one is even asking moms what they think about the ‘caravan’ or how it affects the women and children on the other side of the border.”
Currently, several caravans of thousands of migrants are traveling through Mexico with the hope of entering the United States and claiming asylum. At least 75 percent of the caravan members are male; many of them likely will not be eligible for asylum and may try to sneak in illegally.
Mary Ann Mendoza, whose son was killed by an illegal alien in Mesa, Arizona, was invited to McAllen, along with several mothers who live near the border and deal with the effects of illegal immigration every day.
“The thing about the mothers who gathered this weekend—it’s not only about the loss of lives, it’s about the survivors of illegal alien crime and it’s about preventing this from happening to one more American citizen,” Mendoza said on Nov. 5.
Her son, Brandon Mendoza, was a sergeant with the Mesa Police Department when he was killed in a head-on collision by an illegal alien who was drunk, high on meth, and speeding. He was 32.
Raul Silva-Corona, the illegal alien who killed Brandon, had been convicted of crimes in Colorado in 1994, but failed to show up in court and ended up in Arizona.
“That’s kind of what spurred me into this fight,” Mendoza said. “We’ve got to stop this continual invasion; this repeat invasion of known criminals who keep coming back into our country.”
Mendoza said she often has to reply to critics that say her son could have just as easily been killed by a U.S. citizen.
“He could have been, but he wasn’t,” she said. “He was killed by an illegal criminal who was allowed to stay in our country and commit more crimes. The acceptable amount of illegal-alien crime in America is zero. Zero. I don’t care what statistics you throw at me … the only acceptable number of crimes committed by illegals is zero.”
Mendoza has spent some time at the Arizona border, where hundreds of miles of the U.S.–Mexico border is separated by a flimsy barbed-wire fence, but she was shocked to see that a river, the Rio Grande, was the only barrier between the two countries in Texas.
“I mean this small area of razor wire is the first that we’ve seen anything that’s been secured,” she said, pointing to the concertina wire that had been installed by the U.S. military the day before.
Holding up a poster of her next to her son’s headstone, she said: “I just want to let my fellow Americans know, this is what permanent separation looks like. I will never be able to hold my son, I will never be able to tell him ‘I love you’ … I can’t make a phone call to him. I am permanently separated from him, and the cemetery is the only place I have to go to visit him.”
“I do not want one more American family to be affected the way that my family has been or my community.”
‘It’s a Shame’
Lynne Ryan heard about the trip and traveled from western Pennsylvania to find out more. She said she felt well-versed about the situation at the border until she saw it for herself.
“You listen to these mothers who can’t let their kids go outside and play—it’s a shame,” she said. “You go through these neighborhoods, and there’s fences all around the yards. … They’ve got dogs and cameras and security lights.”
Ryan said the group of mothers was touring the border near a school the day before, when two males came over and tried to blend in with the group. After the group discovered that the men were from Central America and had just crossed the border illegally, one of the women called Border Patrol, who came and apprehended the men.
“I’m not saying that everybody that comes into our country has nefarious reasons, but if you come in illegally, my assumption is that you have nefarious reasons, or you would be coming in through the legal ports of entry,” Ryan said.
“I open my arms gladly for people to come here legally. I love the melting pot that makes this country great. It’s what we were founded on. But to allow criminality to just … swim across the river and come illegally. It’s got to stop.
“People have lost their loved ones over this. How many more people have to die before we address this properly?”
Currently, about 2,400 migrants, mostly Hondurans from the first caravan, have gathered in Tijuana, Mexico. Most are camped at a municipal sports complex near the U.S. border. Several residents of Tijuana said on Nov. 16 that the locals are getting fed up with the trash being left in their city and the violence caused by some of the migrants.
Two women and several children crossed through the bars of the fence at Playas de Tijuana on Nov. 16, according to local police.
The group walked over to Border Patrol agents to be processed. The fence along the beach has since had concertina wire installed on it by U.S. Marine Corps engineers to prevent people from walking through and climbing over.
Large, Organized Groups
President Donald Trump has been outspoken about the caravan and the fact that most of its members are men.
“Isn’t it ironic that large Caravans of people are marching to our border wanting U.S.A. asylum because they are fearful of being in their country—yet they are proudly waving … their country’s flag,” he wrote in a series of tweets on Nov. 16. “Can this be possible? Yes, because it is all a BIG CON, and the American taxpayer is paying for it!”
Trump issued a proclamation on Nov. 9, stating that anyone who crosses the border illegally will be ineligible to claim asylum.
Often, people will cross the southwest border illegally, with the intention of evading law enforcement, and if they happen to get caught, they often will claim asylum, despite having no basis for the claim.
However, unaccompanied minors are exempt from the proclamation, and other illegal border-crossers may still claim asylum under a different category that requires a higher burden of proof. Trump is trying to funnel asylum-seekers to ports of entry, rather than tying up border agents with processing them.
“The United States expects the arrival at the [southern] border between the United States and Mexico of a substantial number of aliens primarily from Central America who appear to have no lawful basis for admission into our country,” the presidential proclamation said. “They are traveling in large, organized groups through Mexico and reportedly intend to enter the United States unlawfully or without proper documentation and to seek asylum, despite the fact that, based on past experience, a significant majority will not be eligible for or be granted that benefit.”
Only 9 percent of Central Americans that pass an initial “credible fear” screening at the border are subsequently approved for asylum by an immigration judge.