The MAGA Truckers Are Back—And Heading to the Border

A convoy that includes election deniers, anti-vaxxers and QAnon devotees is determined to insert itself into the border battles—and experts warn that trouble could escalate.Updated Jan. 26, 2024 8:33PM EST / Published Jan. 26, 2024 8:11PM EST Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/GettyA convoy of Jesus-loving truckers will converge on the southern border next week in a battle to stop

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A convoy that includes election deniers, anti-vaxxers and QAnon devotees is determined to insert itself into the border battles—and experts warn that trouble could escalate.

Kate Briquelet

A photo illustration of MAGA trucks overlaying a picture of the border wall

Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/Getty

A convoy of Jesus-loving truckers will converge on the southern border next week in a battle to stop what they say is a migrant “invasion,” as Texas remains locked in a standoff with the feds over razor wire it installed along the Rio Grande in Eagle Pass.

But the event—called the “Take Our Border Back Convoy” and promoted by far-right media—is advertised as a “peaceful assembly” of active and former law enforcement, military, ranchers, bikers, business owners, and “Mama Bears.”

As Media Matters pointed out, some organizers include a rogue’s gallery of election deniers, anti-vaxxers, and QAnon conspiracy theorists.

One ringleader, Kim Yeater, recently told a Christian podcaster that the convoy is “a god movement” that could halt a “Trojan horse” in the 2024 election.

“America, we’ve got to take our border back, shine the light on what’s going on, expose it,” said Yeater, a radio host who promotes 2020 election fraud lies. “The Bible says to bring everything into the light. We need to hold our elected officials accountable to closing the border and sending the illegal immigrants home back to their countries.”

“The battle is the Lord’s,” Yeater added. “We must step in as victors in Christ. We are not victims of the enemy.”

Co-organizer, Mark Anthony, told another right-wing show: “The Spirit of God, we all feel it. It’s coming. And it’s just the most amazing thing that God could put it on some hearts to have this assembly.” He continued, “He is here, He is present, and this is all about Him.”

The convoy, which has raised more than $54,000 as of Friday evening, will take off on Jan. 29 and meet in three different spots on Feb. 3: Eagle Pass; Yuma, Arizona; and San Ysidro, California.

The convoy is ‘just an opportunity to engage in the kind of cosplay that they’ve been doing at state capitals.’

A promotional video for the cavalcade opens with the words “WARNING INVASION ALERT” with a backdrop of outdoor sirens and night-vision footage. “When does it end?” it asks before cutting to images of American flag-waving truckers.

Don Haider-Markel, professor of political science at the University of Kansas, told The Daily Beast that he had two concerns about the demonstration: That it could just be a money-grabbing scheme, and that it will attract armed extremists and vigilante groups.

Rhetoric displayed in the video, along with former President Trump’s remarks that immigrants are “poisoning the blood of our country,” could spark a volatile situation, he said.

“They’re basically setting up a confrontation: What we’re doing is to confront not just this problem, but individual migrants that might be trying to cross the border. So the sense of threat and responding to threat is elevated,” Haider-Markel said.

“You’re getting people worked up into a frenzy over this, and the notion that it’s going to be completely peaceful and there’s going to be no criminal activity, nothing bad’s going to happen, to me seems really, really misguided.”

The “peaceful assembly” label on the flyer, he added, is about reducing liability.

The truckers will descend on Texas as tensions run high.

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Border Patrol agents could remove concertina wire that Gov. Greg Abbott had ordered the Texas National Guard to erect in order to stem an influx of migrant crossings at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Abbott, exploiting a loophole in the Supreme Court’s ruling, says he plans to continue to lay razor wire even as the federal government removes it.

The Biden administration said the wire prevented federal agents from being able to watch the border and injured some people trying to enter the country. Earlier this month, a migrant woman and two children drowned in the Rio Grande after the Texas National Guard blocked the feds from accessing the area near Shelby Park in Eagle Pass.

Newsmax aired a disturbing interview Thursday stoking fears of a civil war, with a host speculating about a “force-on-force conflict” between Texas and the federal government.

On Friday, Texas Rep. Keith Self, a Republican, appeared on Fox Business and said as many as 700,000 trucks could flock to the border. Self, a scheduled speaker at the Eagle Pass stop, said the participants will be some of the same truckers who traveled from California to Washington, D.C. in 2022. (As The Daily Beast reported, that protest, known as the “People’s Convoy,” was aimed at fighting pandemic restrictions.)

Convoy promoter Pete Chambers, a self-described Green Beret and doctor, told InfoWars that “globalists” were using migrants as “pawns on that border, in a larger chessboard, at the world level” to destabilize the country. (The term globalist, embraced by far-right and conspiracy circles, has origins as an anti-Semitic slur.)

“And you’re out there force multiplying?” host Alex Jones asked.

“That’s what Green Berets do,” Chambers replied. “Foreign internal defense is our bread and butter, unconventional warfare is our bread and butter. Now we’re doing domestic internal defense …. We never dreamt that we would be doing domestic internal defense.”

Chambers then referred to U.S. war tactics to defeat ISIS in Syria. “What gets us to the enemy quickly is to find, fix and finish, exploit, analyze and disseminate,” he said.

But his group members, he added, “don’t have the authorities to finish. So what we do: we find and fix. We fix the location of where the bad guys are. We pair up with law enforcement who is constitutionally sound.” Some authorities, he claimed, were “compromised.”

Haider-Markel said that for some participants, the convoy is “just an opportunity to engage in the kind of cosplay that they’ve been doing at state capitals” over COVID restrictions. “That’s where the genesis of this comes, of course, this idea that we can all mobilize in one place and espouse our love of Jesus Christ, along with brandishing our firearms and all those kinds of things.

“It’s just an opportunity to act out their identities and their beliefs.”

Jon Lewis, a research fellow at the Program on Extremism at George Washington University, told The Daily Beast that while the convoy will likely only include “a small, not entirely competent group of conspiracy theorists,” it’s a “symptom of this deeper rot” in American discourse.

He noted that the organizers’ message includes Christian nationalist undertones and taps into the Great Replacement Theory, as they spout “narratives about shadowy globalists who are replacing the white population in this country with non-white immigrants.” Such speech has become prevalent among Trump and MAGA Republicans.

“This shows how mainstream these white supremacist narratives have become, and how quickly and how easily they’re accepted by such a wide range of individuals,” he said.

“A lot of these conspiracy-minded actors and movements,” Lewis added, “are looking for an excuse to go viral, looking for an excuse to start a standoff … to if not be explicitly martyrs, then at least to create the conditions for this to escalate.”

“It’s that brinkmanship that they need to stay relevant.”

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