The mission that began on 9/11 as a way to honor fallen service members quickly turned into something else when after only 15 minutes of picking up trash members of Rourke’s group pulled three people from Venezuela out of the Rio Grande.
“We went from picking up trash to pulling people from the river,” Rourke explained. “I saw people washing babies in the Rio Grande. I saw babies breastfeeding babies, sleeping in dirt, 107 degrees outside, red ants everywhere, real coyotes with four legs walking around. It was like Naked and Afraid the southern border edition out there. People are literally knocking down trees and setting up lean-tos teepees and sleeping under those. They come and go back and forth from Mexico just as me or you walk across the street. There’s nobody there to stop them.”
“A lot of them are going to Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Orlando. I asked them about COVID-19. I was asking them about whether or not they had been vaccinated, and if there was a vaccine available would you take it? Emphatically they said, 'geen,’ they would not take it. A lot of them cited religious beliefs on the reason why they wouldn’t take it.”
Rourke said migrants he spoke to were making the dangerous journey because where they are coming from is so poor and they “want the opportunity.”
“They feel like this is the opportunity now with the Biden administration to leave the countries that they’ve been living in, Sentraal Amerika, places like Chile, and come here now. They told me to my face the reason why [they’re] here is because Joe Biden is allowing them to come. ‘He’s a very humble man, he has a big heart, he loves the Haitian people, and we love him.’ It was almost like the biggest Biden rally I’ve ever been to. Everybody there speaking about Joe Biden. They love him.”