Thousands Gather for Prayer and Protest at ‘Take Our Border Back’ Rallies, Convoys

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Thousands Gather for Prayer and Protest at ‘Take Our Border Back’ Rallies, Convoys

Participants of a convoy protesting the current status of open U.S. borders pray together in San Ysidro, Calif., on Feb. 3, 2024. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Brad Jones

Brad Jones

2/5/2024

Updated: 2/6/2024

YUMA, Ariz.—More than 2,500 protesters outraged over lax border security and an unprecedented surge in illegal immigration under the Biden administration gathered in prayer and protest in three border states over the weekend.
More than 300 gathered in San Diego County on Feb. 3 before joining the Take Our Border Back convoy to Yuma, while another rally was held at Eagle Pass, Texas.
Kim Yeater, a California-based organizer, told 300 supporters at the César Chávez Recreation Center in San Ysidro, California, to look at the border wall visible in the distance.
Kim Yeater speaks in San Ysidro, Calif., on Feb. 3, 2024. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Kim Yeater speaks in San Ysidro, Calif., on Feb. 3, 2024. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

“You see the wall,” she said. “That’s a safe, closed border right there.”
The rallies were “peaceful, lawful assembly and prayer,” Ms. Yeater stressed to all supporters.
“We are rolling in love. We are rolling in peace. ... and, when we roll in our alignment with God first, and country, that is really key,” she said. “We have been in battle for quite some time. We’ve been waiting and waiting and waiting for something to happen—something to shift—and I think what we’re learning we are the shift. Yes, people are the shift.”
The protesters formed a convoy of more than 200 vehicles for the 185-mile drive to where two other convoys converged.
“It was amazing,” Ms. Yeater said.
Rock star Ted Nugent, who played a guitar solo of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin spoke at the rally in Eagle Pass.
The purpose of the event, according to organizers, was to warn Americans about “the imminent danger” that the Biden administration’s “open border” policies pose to national security and public safety. The group isn’t opposed to legal immigration, but wants to see immigration laws enforced and illegal immigrants safely and humanely deported back to their home countries, Ms. Yeater said preceding the rally.
In Yuma, hundreds of people lined the road, cheering and chanting “U-S-A” as about 200 vehicles in the California convoy arrived at dusk on Feb. 3.

Convoy to Yuma

Mike Haws, 54, a founder of a Sacramento-based grassroots patriot Freedom Riders group, told Epoch Times reporters embedded with the convoy that more Californians and Americans are paying attention to the border crisis.
“It’s quite amazing. It’s good,” he said. “I just can’t believe the length of the convoy. It’s a lot of cars.”
As the convoy left San Ysidro, counterprotesters in about five cars with signs in Spanish passed the convoy, blasting their message over a bullhorn.
“We get a lot of birds, and we get a lot of waving flags and thumbs up,” Mr. Haws said. His pickup truck bears the message: “Until you wake up, I’ll fight for you too.—Standing for our freedoms.”
“They are waking up,” he said. “We get a lot less fingers, and our group is growing tremendously every day.”
Drivers prepare to join a convoy in protest of the open U.S. borders, in San Ysidro, Calif., on Feb. 3, 2024. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Drivers prepare to join a convoy in protest of the open U.S. borders, in San Ysidro, Calif., on Feb. 3, 2024. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

"Big Mike" prepares to join a convoy of cars protesting the current status of open U.S. borders, in San Ysidro, Calif., on Feb. 3, 2024. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

"Big Mike" prepares to join a convoy of cars protesting the current status of open U.S. borders, in San Ysidro, Calif., on Feb. 3, 2024. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

On the way to Yuma, supporters along the freeway and on overpasses waved flags and banners, with slogans such as “Save America,” cheering the convoy on while some motorists honked their horns, offering friendly smiles and thumbs up.
Driving on Interstate 8 to Yuma, just east of Jacumba, California—a known hotspot for illegal border crossings—about 100 illegal immigrants could be seen at Moon camp, one of three migrant camps in the area.
“They’re that close to the road,” Mr. Haws said, shaking his head in disbelief.
The Biden administration is sending illegal immigrants to red states, he said.
“What we’re finding and what I’ve seen is they’re sending them to all the red states,” Mr. Haws said. “They’re going to turn them purple.”
He said the purpose of the Freedom Riders is to create a brighter future for children.
Children wave U.S. flags outside a car window in San Ysidro, Calif., on Feb. 3, 2024. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Children wave U.S. flags outside a car window in San Ysidro, Calif., on Feb. 3, 2024. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Supporters of a convoy protesting the status of open U.S. borders cheer on participants from freeway overpasses outside of Alpine, Calif., on Feb. 3, 2024. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Supporters of a convoy protesting the status of open U.S. borders cheer on participants from freeway overpasses outside of Alpine, Calif., on Feb. 3, 2024. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Aside from opposing illegal immigration, Mr. Haws’s group attends “Back the Blue” rallies to support law enforcement, and fights against homelessness, drug addiction, and legislation that pushes gender ideology in schools.
“That’s why I have all these QR codes on the side of my truck,” he said.
The Freedom Riders also often drive down Roseville Road in Sacramento, California, which is lined with tents and homeless drug addicts, Mr. Haws said.
He said he supported The People’s Convoy, which traveled from California and other parts of the nation to Washington, D.C., in 2021 to protest the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns and has remained active at freedom rallies across the state ever since.
Jerry Piani, who drove his flag-bearing pickup truck from San Ysidro to Yuma, told The Epoch Times in a roadside interview on Interstate 8 on the way that the border should be closed for public safety and Washington should “start paying attention to the veterans who are out in the street or getting kicked out of hotels” because illegal immigrants are being given first priority.
The United States needs to “get back to basics,” and protect its own children and citizens first, he said.
Mr. Piani also joined The People’s Convoy when truckers were blocked from exiting the beltway into Washington.

San Ysidro Rally

At the San Ysidro rally, “Angel Mom” Agnes Gibboney spoke of her son, Ron De Silva, who was killed by an illegal immigrant, as well as Sandra Mendez, whose daughter died recently because of fentanyl.
Dan Ball, host of Real America on One America News Network, denounced the Biden administration for “trampling on the Constitution and our freedoms and liberties” and making Mexican drug cartels rich while U.S. taxpayers foot the bill to care for illegal immigrants.
“Are you tired of paying your taxes and watching all the cash go to the federal government so they can buy plane tickets, bus tickets, cellphones, put them in the Roosevelt Hotel in downtown Manhattan and kick out American citizens that had a hotel booked months in advance?” he asked the crowd.
Mr. Ball, who also lost his nephew because of fentanyl, said overdose deaths have increased dramatically since President Biden took office.
With millions of illegal immigrants from 160 countries, the border crisis has brought illicit drugs, sex trafficking, and more crime to the United States, he said.
“This is the worst invasion our nation has ever seen,” Mr. Ball said.
He criticized President Biden for telling news reporters on Jan. 30 that “I’ve done all I can do” about the border crisis and blaming Congress for not giving him the power to intervene.
“Did you scream and want to break your TV and say, ‘You are the biggest liar I have ever seen in my ... life?’” Mr. Ball asked the crowd. “We watched you the first week of February 2021, sign executive order after executive order undoing everything that President Donald J. Trump did to secure that border.”
He also raised concerns about the many military-age men from China and the Middle East crossing illegally into the country, according to widespread news reports.
Border Patrol agents monitor border crossings in Jacumba, Calif., on Jan. 10, 2024. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Border Patrol agents monitor border crossings in Jacumba, Calif., on Jan. 10, 2024. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Jesse Suave, a legal immigrant from Mexico, said he is opposed to the current border policies because they hurt Latino communities.
“I’m here to support the people here and their agenda to stop illegals from crossing. We’re fighting Biden, who has done absolutely nothing to stop this,” he said.
Mr. Suave urged all Americans to take a stand against illegal immigration.
“I’m on my way to Arizona to fight illegal entry because the illegals that come here—not all of them are good people. Some of them are criminals, drug addicts, and bad people,” he said.
“They come to the Latino community. ... and we can’t have that.
“That’s where they do the harm—not all of them, of course, but the ones that are bad.”
Karen Edeling of Anaheim, who was headed to Yuma after the rally, said she blames the Biden administration for allowing the United States to be flooded by millions of “illegal invaders.”
“It’s terrible,” she said. “It’s a tragedy what’s going on at our border.
“It’s a deliberate takedown of America, and we have to take our borders back.”
Border towns are overrun, and illegal immigrants are being flown and bussed to “every city” in the country. ... and we’re just being overrun with crime,” Ms. Edeling said. “We love America, and we’re peaceful, but we’re going to take our government back peacefully at the ballot box.”
Marcus Brooks, of Dayton, Ohio, who is currently staying in Imperial Beach near San Diego, said it’s important for more Americans to show up at rallies and protests to “let our government know that we’re still united as people” and that “it’s not OK” for illegal immigrants to “beat up cops,” he said, referring to a group of illegal immigrants who assaulted police officers in New York City on Jan. 28.
“I believe in immigration, but going through the proper channels,” he said. “Our border is being overtaken. It’s definitely an invasion. It’s absolutely done on purpose to get votes. That’s what I believe.”
Illegal immigrants who passed through a gap in the U.S. border wall await processing by Border Patrol agents in Jacumba, Calif., on Dec. 7, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Illegal immigrants who passed through a gap in the U.S. border wall await processing by Border Patrol agents in Jacumba, Calif., on Dec. 7, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Illegal immigrants who passed through a gap in the U.S. border wall await processing by Border Patrol agents in Jacumba, Calif., on Dec. 7, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Illegal immigrants who passed through a gap in the U.S. border wall await processing by Border Patrol agents in Jacumba, Calif., on Dec. 7, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

James Bradley, one of 30 candidates running for an open U.S. Senate seat in California, said he was there to observe and support the protestors.
“I’m supporting it, because if you’re not seeing what’s going on the border, and how it’s affecting all our neighborhoods, you’re asleep,” he said. “Everyone’s feeling it.”
Mr. Bradley said he has been at the border, off and on, for the past three months, and as a former U.S. Coast Guard member, and now a commander in the Coast Guard Auxiliary, he knows the importance of border security.
He said he wants to “zero in” on the causes of the border crisis and “who is behind it,” including the role of nongovernmental organizations, or NGOs, which have capitalized on illegal immigration as a way to make money.
“We have a lot of nefarious organizations clearly that are backing this whole movement, and they’re using the humanitarian crisis and asylum seekers as the cover in my opinion,” Mr. Bradley said. “That’s what I’ve seen.”
Widespread reports about a high percentage of military-age men coming across the border have raised a lot of questions, he said.
“I’ve spent a lot of time down here, asking questions—not making judgments—but to gather as much information as I can,” Mr. Bradley said.
Stan Caplan, a congressional candidate, said that people whom he’s talked to in District 51, east of San Diego, aren’t happy about illegal immigration and homelessness, which both lead to increased crime and “overburdening of our infrastructure.”
“People are fed up,” he said. “They don’t want them in the country.”
Participants of a convoy protesting the current status of open U.S. borders end their drive in rural Yuma, Ariz., on Feb. 3, 2024. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Participants of a convoy protesting the current status of open U.S. borders end their drive in rural Yuma, Ariz., on Feb. 3, 2024. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Congress needs to enforce existing immigration laws, Mr. Caplan said.
“People tell me that if they go to an emergency room or try to get a doctor’s appointment, it takes months and they feel like they’re treated like second-class citizens,” he said.
“Our government is funding illegals, not only for their housing, education, and health care—they’re giving them free this and free that—but they’re putting our American citizens behind these illegals. Our American citizens and our veterans need some help, too, but they’re not getting it.”
Mr. Caplan said, if elected, he’ll push 12 proposed bills that he has already written that support law enforcement and deal with crime and the illicit drug epidemic.
“The people in my district are telling me. ... they have to look over their shoulder and they don’t feel safe,” he said. “Everybody knows somebody that has a family member or a relative that has or has had a drug issue—either a death or they’ve become addicted. It’s just not fair to our American citizens.”
Ceci Truman, a Republican congressional candidate whose district covers more than half of California’s border with Mexico, and several other GOP candidates spoke at the San Ysidro rally, and some joined the convoy to Yuma.
From October 2023 through December 2023, there were 785,422 encounters along the southwest U.S. border with a record 302,034 in December 2023 alone, according to Customs and Border Patrol data released on Jan. 26.
Total apprehensions of illegal and inadmissible aliens in fiscal year 2023—from Oct. 1, 2022, to Sept. 30, 2023—were 3.2 million. In fiscal year 2022, the number was more than 2.7 million.
Counting “known gotaways”—illegal immigrants recorded but not caught by Border Patrol—more than 8 million people have entered the country illegally in less than three years under the Biden administration.
But many critics of President Biden, including those who participated in the Take Our Border Back convoy, claim that those numbers are likely much higher—and may be off by as much as 4 million.
John Fredricks contributed to this report.
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