More than 50 people carrying firearms and anti-government flags protested a proposal to temporarily house Central American children and teenagers in Vassar, Michigan.
The group, organized by anti-immigration activist Tamyra Murray, carried AR-15 rifles, handguns, Gadsden “Don’t Tread On Me” flags, and a “Second American Revolution” flag – which combines the Betsy Ross design with the Roman numeral II within a circle of 13 stars.
They marched from Vassar City Hall to Wolverine Human Services' Pioneer Work and Learn Center, where 12- to 17-year-old boys from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala could be housed until their immigration cases could be heard, reported The Saginaw News.
“We’re not against kids,” Murray said. “We have sympathy for the kids being used and exploited by the feds.”
The recent influx of children and teens from Central America across the U.S. border has sparked hysteria among some Americans – like Murray – who fear the immigrants may be carrying diseases or drugs.
Murray told the newspaper that she has contacts along the border who reported that some of the children belong to gangs and act as drug runners for cartels, while others are coughing blood and have suspected tuberculosis.
Conservative media outlets, such as Fox News and Breitbart, and Republican lawmakers have been stoking fears over disease-ridden kids at immigration facilities – although vaccination rates for tuberculosis and other infectious diseases are higher in Central American countries than in the U.S.
The proposal to house some of those children and teens in eastern Michigan has provoked strong opposition since it was first rumored.
Under the proposal, up to 120 migrant children would stay in Vassar -- which has a population of about 2,700 -- for two to four weeks and receive immunizations and basic education before they were reunited with family members or sent back to their home countries after their cases were heard in immigration court.
An official with Wolverine Human Services stressed the children would not be criminals or have criminal ties.
Opponents of the plan suspect, as conservative media outlets and Republican lawmakers have suggested, the border crisis was manufactured by the Obama administration to undermine American sovereignty and add likely Democratic voters to the rolls.
“We don’t have no say,” said Scott Freeman, who was carrying a second American Revolution flag. “(President Barack) Obama’s got to go.”
Murray and other protesters say the migrant children do not legally qualify for refugee status, and some of them proposed last week at an informational meeting that the children should be housed in unused prisons and a minefield be set up along the border.
One protester argued that Obama’s use of language undermined the rule of law.
“He’s calling illegal immigrants undocumented immigrants,” said Jeff McQueen. “It’s like calling drug dealers undocumented pharmacists.”
“That’s anarchy,” he added.
Watch this video report posted online by WJBK-TV: