Following the mass murder of 11 worshipers Saturday in a Pittsburgh synagogue, it is unclear if organizers of an armed militia to stop Central American refugees at the southern U.S. border will continue their efforts.
The suspected Pittsburgh killer, Robert Bowers, had posted on social media that Jewish organizations were providing assistance to the caravan of 3,000 to 4,000 residents of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras currently in southern Mexico. Caravan members say they are escaping violence and poverty in their countries and plan to relocate in Mexico or continue to the U.S. in search for a better life.
Josh Culbertson of Seminole, Oklahoma, one of the fundraisers for what he calls a “militia of U.S. patriots” said he is not sure if he will continue his work. “What happened in Pittsburgh could affect our plans, at least for a few days,” he said. “The wacko who killed all those people up there has muddied the waters for the cause even though he does not support most of our beliefs. The militia has nothing against Jews. I’m afraid if we continue, right now, this will become a political issue and could hurt President [Donald] Trump.”
Another issue that Culberton and other militia organizers face is opposition from landowners on the Rio Grande in Texas. On Friday, an association of owners said it might organize its own militia if armed anti-migrant groups enter their property. “This is the job of the border police and we will work with them if there’s a problem,” says Rex McClellan, a landowner near Eagle Pass. “The last thing we need right now is a bunch of fat, old men with guns running around our property. They are not welcome.”
Exactly how many militia members will turn out is unclear, even if organizers continue their efforts. It is also unclear, how they would interact with U.S. border patrol and U.S. military troops that the defense department says it may deploy near the border of Texas, Arizona and California.
On Saturday, an official with the Texas department of public safety said there were signs that the size of the caravan is dwindling and that it might never reach the U.S. border. “Before it entered Mexico, it numbered 6,000 to 7,000,” a spokesman said. “Now, it is at about 3,000 and many in it say they plan to stay in Mexico or even go home.”
Sources: U.S. News and World Report, RTU, Fox News, et. al.