A Catholic charity group based near the U.S.-Mexico border said Thursday that the conspiracy theorist Alex Jones had used his massive platform to stage a confrontation and falsely accuse the group of human trafficking.
In a video clip that, according to Jones’ website, has been viewed more than 1.5 million times, the far-right host and other members of his crew are seen standing in front of an SUV carrying several children and their mothers, stopping the vehicle from moving while alleging that the children were being trafficked.
“You got those smuggled children illegally!” Jones yelled at the vehicle’s driver during the incident.
“This is literally human smuggling!” another man with Jones shouted.
In reality, the video showed “a staged confrontation interrupting the goodwill of someone providing assistance in the form of transportation for three mothers and their children to the Humanitarian Respite Center,” said Sister Norma Pimentel, executive director of the Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, in a statement to TPM.
The center and Catholic Charities have worked since the Obama administration to ensure that asylum-seekers and citizens have access to clothes, food and “a moment of rest,” Pimentel said. The website BorderReport.com detailed the group’s efforts to provide aid and COVID-19 testing to asylum-seekers in a report last month. The popularity of Jones’ video prompted Snopes.com to fact check it on Thursday.
The video’s headline screamed: “Alex Jones Stops Smugglers From Illegally Transporting Children At The Border.”
Pimentel’s statement did acknowledge one thing that Jones and his crew pointed out: “Ideally, the children should have been wearing seatbelts; unfortunately, this was not the case in this instance.”
But the seat belt infraction wasn’t Jones’ main concern.
“Your human smuggling’s going to stop, freak!” Jones yelled at the driver at one point in the video. Later, someone in Jones’ crew argued with passers-by: “These people are being human trafficked and raped! They’re being raped!”
In her three-page statement responding to Jones’ video, Pimentel expressed disappointment at what she said was an attempt to sensationalize her charity’s work.
“I urge you to look past the fear mongering and mischaracterizations and remember to actually see the human beings fleeing persecution and their need for human dignity, which mirrors our own,” she wrote.
Jones’ website InfoWars did not respond to TPM’s request for comment, nor has the city of McAllen responded to a public records request. At the end of Jones’ video, a police officer spoke with the vehicle’s driver as the women and children got out of the car.
Eventually, people in the background of Jones’ video began to take notice of his actions.
“Express your opinion like an American, not like an animal!” one man yelled at Jones. “They’re children. You’re scaring them yourself. You’re traumatizing them!”
Jones isn’t the first far-right activist to make migrant children the subject of his videos.
In 2019, several churches in Arizona sued the far-right groups Patriot Movement AZ and AZ Patriots after members of the groups posted videos of themselves yelling at migrant children and church volunteers at several different locations, sometimes while allegedly open-carrying weapons.
Eventually, the groups agreed to stay 50 feet away from the churches while recording video, and to stop accusing the churches of human trafficking, among other restrictions.