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Texas border town becomes hotspot for US election year

Xinhua | Updated: 2024-02-04 07:08

A group of migrants stand on the edge of Rio Grande as the National Guard officers pass by on boats, in Eagle Pass, Texas, US February 3, 2024. [Photo/Agencies]

EAGLE PASS, the United States - Large coils of concertina wire gleam silver in the sun, rusty shipping containers sit in a long row, and orange-red buoys are stacked on an open field, waiting to be installed as water barriers in the Rio Grande bordering the United States and Mexico.

At the closed gate between barbed wire fences, armed Texas National Guardsmen with armored vehicles are on duty, making Shelby Park, a municipal park in Eagle Pass, Texas, resemble a militarized zone.

The park, which stretches along the 2.5-mile-long Rio Grande river bank with four soccer fields for local residents to enjoy, has recently become a focal point in the national drama over immigration as partisan fights are unfolding in the US general election year.


The Texas National Guard seized Shelby Park on Jan. 12 and restricted federal access under the order of the state's governor, Greg Abbott, who called the illegal border crossing "an invasion" and claimed the state has the right to defend itself because US President Joe Biden has failed to fulfill his duty to secure the US border.

The Supreme Court ordered last month that Texas cannot block Border Patrol agents from cutting wire to reach the river and aid migrants in distress. In response, Abbott asked state troops to install more razor wires and barriers along the border river.

The GOP governor thus successfully made national headlines, as his feud with the Biden administration is heating up over the state's right to border control.

Last month, 25 of the 26 other Republican governors issued a joint statement supporting Texas' constitutional right to self-defense. Former President Donald Trump, a leading Republican presidential candidate in 2024, has also supported Abbott.

The standoff between the state and the federal government led to a convoy of protesters, mostly Trump supporters, to head from the East Coast to Eagle Pass and two other border towns each in California and Arizona in an attempt to "take the border back."

Rallies were scheduled there on Saturday, though the convoy seems much smaller than anticipated, according to local media reports. Many protesters have described themselves as part of "God's army" taking actions against "globalists."

"The border has to be controlled and it's not ... And I think we need to do something," Jim Helms, a 68-year-old man from Alaska, told Xinhua. He changed his travel plans with "no hesitation" upon hearing of the convoy and came to Eagle Pass to join the rally.

Along with the support of 14 other Republican governors, Abbott is scheduled to conduct a press conference on Sunday, according to NBC News.

"Abbott and his supporters are creating a media circus for political gain and to raise money," Domingo Garcia, president of the League of United Latin American Citizens, said in an earlier statement, associating the convoy with the standoff between Texas and the White House over border security measures.

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