The Southwest Workers Union and members of the San Antonio community gathered Friday to protest Fox News’ “Battle at the Border,” a town hall event centered on border security and immigration issues.
As panelists like “Fox & Friends” host Brian Kilmeade and “Fox Nation” host Tomi Lahren prepared to address event-goers at the JW Marriott Hill Country resort, a crowd of about 15 people assembled along a road near the entrance. Security officials gave them five minutes to disperse, then drove away and did not return.
Some protesters waved signs while others chanted, “Raise up your fists. Resist. Resist,” and “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Fox News has got to go,” and “No racist law; no border wall.”
In a news release, Southwest Workers Union, which organized the demonstration, said the “Battle at the Border” event “reinforces the false narrative of an alleged border community in chaos that is both incorrect and not a reflection of our reality.”
Citing the current levels of undocumented immigration into the U.S. and the low crime rates of migrant populations, the union noted: “Fox News and speaker Tomi Lahren are not from our community nor do they speak to our experiences. The framing of this dialogue and attempts to explain the situation is both detrimental to our neighborhoods and dangerous.”
Standing with a sign that read, “No al muro (no to the wall),” Laeree Lepo shared her thoughts on the event.
“It’s misrepresentation all around. ...It’s buying into that clickbait: ‘Trump said something so let me go ahead and ride those coattails.’ ”
Beto De León, a member of the environmental justice team within Southwest Workers Union, said he came to defend his community and the border region, which he feels is being exploited for policy reasons.
“Right now, they’re in there talking about a wall to separate us from Mexico. And, for a lot of our community members, we don’t feel that that’s just or a solution to fix any of the problems that they’re exploiting for their own nationalist agenda,” he said.
The town hall featured several speakers, including Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Governor Greg Abbott. De León expressed frustration at their presence.
“I feel like it continues the distance between the state government and the community. It’s not based in solutions. It’s not based in community building,” he said. “It’s continuing more of the fear-mongering that Washington’s been pushing.”
Diana Lopez, one of the protest organizers, said “Battle at the Border” helped her develop a better understanding of national media and the role they play in public opinion.
“Being here in spaces where people aren’t from San Antonio, they’re not from the border, they don’t understand the context — and they criminalize everything that has to do with the border — it’s very intense and very false,” Lopez said. “I think that’s an important role that’s played by national media, to control the story and portray a vision that’s very skewed and different from what the reality is.”
She also critiqued the resort venue chosen for the event, noting that was more than 100 miles from the border and separated from community dialogue.
“How could they really understand the realities of what’s happening if they’re not actually on the border and coming into the communities? And knowing what the stories are?”
The panel discussion will be aired on Fox News Channel at 7 p.m. Sunday and again at 10 p.m.
Carson Frame can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @carson_frame