House GOPers Teamed With Conspiracist Who Called Migrants ‘Apes’ And ‘Congo Cannibals’

Rep. Tom Tiffany (R-WI) during a 2021 trip to the Darien Gap with Michael Yon. (Photo:
Start your day with TPM.
Sign up for the Morning Memo newsletter

As Republicans in Congress have attacked President Biden’s handling of the southern border, some of them have turned to a far-right media figure with a decidedly extreme perspective. Online, Michael Yon has dubbed himself “just a simple war correspondent and cannibal hunter.” The latter part of his job description refers to his work tracking migrants and his fears they are part of “a planet of the apes style invasion” that is targeting the white race for “genocide and cannibalism.” This shockingly racist paranoia — including referring to migrants as “apes” and “Congo-Cannibals” — has not stopped Yon from collaborating with multiple Republican members of Congress who have turned to him to participate in inflammatory documentaries and junkets to Latin America.

After receiving a request for comment on this story, Yon posted the message on his social media rather than responding. TPM engaged in an extensive back and forth with Yon over email to obtain comment from him for the story. As of publication, he had not provided a response.

Yon, a Special Forces veteran, gained notoriety as an independent blogger who spent extensive time on the front during the Iraq War. A 2008 profile in the New York Times said Yon spent three years in Iraq where he wrote reader-funded dispatches while “racking up more time embedded with combat units than any other journalist, according to the United States military.” The newspaper noted Yon had “an agenda” and described him as firmly believing the American mission in that country was “succeeding and must continue.” Since then, Yon has turned his attention to immigration — and his agenda has become far more strident and extreme. 

Michael Yon appearing in “Alien Invasion.” (Photo:

In September 2022, Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) put together an approximately 30-minute video called “Alien Invasion” that he dubbed “a documentary on the Biden border crisis.” The video coincided with Bigg’s push to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. It premiered at the Heritage Foundation and is still, as of this writing, featured on Biggs’ website. According to the credits, “Alien Invasion” was “presented by” Biggs, who served as a narrator and produced by two of his staffers. It features an interview with Yon about the conditions in the Darien Gap, a treacherous, dense jungle between Panama and Colombia that is traversed by immigrants who attempt to make the journey by land from South America to the United States. Yon, who was billed as a guest star of the documentary, has spent time in the region and was credited by Biggs’ team with providing some of the footage used for the “documentary.”

“Darien Gap is very dangerous. It’s one of the most dangerous places on earth,” Yon said during his appearance in the video, adding, “It’s just wild jungle including the indians who live out there, who kill migrants pretty much every day. It’s literally the law of the jungle, so if the jungle doesn’t get you often the indians do.”

Biggs and his communications director Matthew Tragesser, who is one of the staffers that produced the documentary, did not respond to a request for comment. The other staffer involved in making the video, Paul Windsor, became the creative director for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) last December. Cruz’s office did not respond to a request for comment. 

Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) appearing in his “Alien Invasion” video. (Photo:

Yon’s collaboration with Biggs is typical of how some on the right have used the specter of dangerous conditions south of the border to criticize Biden and to advocate for more restrictive immigration policies. This fearmongering reached an absurd peak with the GOP response to the president’s State of the Union that Sen. Katie Britt (R-AL) delivered earlier this month where she falsely implied that a dramatic incident of sex trafficking which occurred roughly two decades ago in Mexico had taken place in this county and on Biden’s watch. Yon’s work also shows how, along with highlighting the real dangers faced by migrants in their home countries and on the border crossings, some on the right believe the immigrants themselves are a direct threat. 

In multiple posts he wrote in 2021 on the site formerly known as Twitter, prior to the release of Biggs’ documentary, Yon described foreigners as cannibals. On two occasions this month, he used the sci-fi movie “Planet of the Apes” to describe the effects of immigration. This included a March 13 post after Biden’s State of the Union where the president announced plans to build a pier in the Gaza Strip to deliver aid to starving Palestinians. 

“That port will be to facilitate the ex-vasion from Gaza into Florida, etc,” Yon wrote. “And boy will all the people in SouthEast Florida be surprised when the Haitians and Gazans all arrive in a planet of the apes style invasion.”

Along with criticizing foreigners, Yon has disparaged American minorities on social media. In February 2021, he wrote about his frustration with “black men murdering white people.” Later that year, he urged his followers not to go to Washington D.C. and said it is “too dangerous there. Especially for white folks”

In other posts made before and after his collaboration with Biggs, Yon openly referenced concepts popular in white nationalist circles, including the “Great Replacement” theory, the book “Camp of the Saints,” and the notion of white genocide. Yon tied all of this together in a July 2022 post on his website where he suggested the white population was being targeted by shadowy, evil forces. 

“The Beast is setting conditions for famine and war that will include justification for genocide and cannibalism of selected targets. Specifically, the new Jews, the new Kulaks: white people,” Yon wrote. 

None of this has stopped Yon from gaining traction in right-wing circles. He has amassed a six-figure social media following and crowdfunded nearly $70,000 for his work. Yon has also appeared on the “War Room” show with former Trump adviser Steve Bannon and been interviewed by the prominent podcaster and author Jordan Peterson. Along with these more fringe figures, Yon has engaged with congressional Republicans. In addition to his work with Biggs, Yon accompanied Rep. Tom Tiffany (R-WI) on a trip to the Darien Gap region in 2021. That junket included another member of Congress who initially declined to be identified. Yon and others subsequently named Rep. Burgess Owens (R-UT) as the other participant on the trip. Both Owens and Tiffany, who was also featured in Biggs’ documentary, did not respond to requests for comment. 

Along with working alongside Republican members of Congress, Yon made at least one trip to Capitol Hill — on Jan. 6, 2021. 

Yon posted photos showing he was on the steps of the U.S. Capitol wearing a helmet and tactical gear as the building was overrun by the pro-Trump mob. Like others on the right, since that day, Yon has repeatedly promoted baseless conspiracies that leftists and antifascists were responsible for the violent assault on the Capitol. He also insisted that he did not break into the building like the hundreds of people who have been arrested and was there merely as a “war correspondent.” However, in other posts, Yon made clear he sympathized with those who hoped to reverse Trump’s loss. Yon, who claimed to have been with Rudy Giuliani in the days after the attack, expressed frustration with Vice President Mike Pence for certifying the election. He also made a post during the violence urging people to “stand up” and one the night before exhorting his audience to “CONFRONT DARKNESS.” 

Shortly after Biden’s inauguration, Yon made clear his version of frontline correspondence is a decidedly unconventional one. “I’ve never claimed to be unbiased, or a reporter,” Yon wrote. 

Latest News
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: