FALFURRIAS, Tex. —Gun-carrying civilian groups and border vigilantes have heard a call to arms in President Trump’s warnings about threats to American security posed by caravans of Central American migrants moving through Mexico. They’re packing coolers and tents, oiling rifles and tuning up aerial drones, with plans to form caravans of their own and trail American troops to the border.
“We’ll observe and report, and offer aid in any way we can,” said Shannon McGauley, a bail bondsman in the Dallas suburbs who is president of the Texas Minutemen. McGauley said he was preparing to head for the Rio Grande in coming days.
“We’ve proved ourselves before, and we’ll prove ourselves again,” he said.
As three separate migrant caravans slowly made their way north through Mexico on Saturday, newly arrived US troops worked to lay a barbed-wire fence along the Texas side of the Rio Grande.
The soldiers worked with US Customs and Border Patrol officers to lay about 1,000 feet of fencing along the river, the Defense Department said. The makeshift barrier was installed underneath the McAllen-Hidalgo International Bridge, which crosses into Mexico. The overpass is in the small town of Hidalgo, about 250 miles south of San Antonio.
“I saw that beautiful barbed wire going up,” Trump said at a Saturday campaign rally in Montana. “Beautiful sight.”
A Border Patrol spokesman said in an email to The Post the fencing was part of “necessary preparations” for the caravans.
Roughly 900 troops have reached the US-Mexico border since the Trump administration began the deployment Oct. 26. The president vowed the forces would block the caravans, which contain thousands of migrants, from entering US turf.
Military units are heading to outposts along the border from Texas to California.
After saying about 5,000 active-duty troops would be deployed as part of Operation Faithful Patriot, Trump on Wednesday boosted the number from 10,000 to 15,000.
A separate contingent of about 2,100 National Guard troops had already been deployed to work with Border Patrol in anticipation of the caravans, which have about 7,000 people total, according to the Defense Department.
MATAMOROS, Mexico (AP) — Waiting on the southern end of a bridge that leads to the United States, Humberto Alvarez Gonzalez warily follows the progress of the caravan winding through Mexico with the goal of reaching the border.
Alvarez and about two dozen other people are waiting in Matamoros, across the Rio Grande from Brownsville, Texas, because U.S. customs officers say there’s no space to process them. They sleep on cots near the bridge and rely on donors who bring them food and clothing. Some have waited for two weeks.
Now, Alvarez, a 32-year-old from Cuba, is worried that large waves of migrants in a caravan still more than 800 miles away from the border might provoke the U.S. government to reject them altogether.
“Our idea is to enter before the caravan,” he said. “We are afraid that the group of migrants will reach us and that they will judge us together with them.”
Asylum seekers already camping at border crossings worry that how the Trump administration responds to the caravan of some 4,000 Central American migrants and three much smaller ones hundreds of miles behind it could leave them shut out. President Donald Trump last week threatened to detain asylum seekers in large tents and send as many as 15,000 active-duty soldiers to the border. He’s also spoken of closing the border.
U.S. government officials say the bridges remain open to asylum seekers. But in South Texas, the busiest corridor for unauthorized border crossings, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers stand at the center of bridges to check documents and stop most asylum seekers.