This article originally appeared on VICE US.
A small group of right-wingers were convinced that a Chicago woman was responsible for last year’s so-called migrant caravan, so they donned MAGA gear and decided to confront her at her church over the weekend.
Immigration activist Emma Lozano has been the target of a conservative conspiracy theory for months, the Chicago Tribune reports. Earlier this year, Glenn Beck personally blamed Lozano and her church, the Lincoln United Methodist Church, for their “assault” on the country, a move that inspired a group of men affiliated with Frontline America, a conservative website whose founder claims to “stand against the godless anti-American radical leftist agenda,” to “investigate” Lozano and her church.
“We’re up here standing up for America — America first,” one man says in a livestream of the Saturday interaction. “This organization, Pueblos Sin Fronteras, is organizing undermining America. They have people in Central America that is training people on how to come here illegally. That’s insane!”
An immigrant advocacy group Lozano founded in the late 1980s seems to be the root of the confusion, according to the Tribune. The group, Pueblo Sin Fronteras — “Community Without Borders” — happens to have the same name as a Dallas-based group that helped organize the 2018 caravan. That group was founded in 2009 and is based in the Southwest.
The men affiliated with Frontline America, who showed up to Lozano’s church wearing MAGA gear, don’t seem to believe the distinction. “This fake church is organizing the invasion of America,” one man said in a 40-minute livestream of the confrontation.
This isn’t the first time right-wing protesters have targeted churches whose members volunteer for immigrant advocacy groups. Earlier this year, the Southern Poverty Law Center filed a suit on behalf of pastors and churches in the Phoenix area who say they were targeted by conservative groups whose members were "illegally intimidating, threatening, harassing" parishioners.
The groups, Patriot Movement AZ and AZ Patriots, allegedly harassed pastors because of their work in immigrant communities. Angel Campos, one of the pastors targeted by the groups, told CNN that the “patriot” groups’ members accused him and his church of being paid to help immigrants, as well as of engaging in human trafficking. Campos once got a voicemail saying his children should be raped, the lawsuit alleges.
This week, the AZ Patriots agreed to stop harassing the churches as a result of the lawsuit. But the members of Patriot Movement AZ haven’t agreed to back off — one told CNN doing so would amount to giving up her First Amendment rights.
Cover: Saul Arellano, 8, left, talks with his godmother Emma Lozano, center, as Jose Sandoval, upper left, stands besides as Rev. Walter Coleman talks during a news conference in San Jose, Calif., Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2007. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)