On Tuesday, Fox News ran an especially alarming headline about migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border into Eagle Pass.
The way the report put it, locals had started arming themselves, in part, because, according to at least one resident, migrants had “killed pets” in town. The Fox report said that migrants were “killing dogs, stealing from homes and prompting [the] Texas border town residents to feel unsafe.”
Problem is, local law enforcement officials say they have received no reports specifically identifying migrants as pet killers in Eagle Pass or Maverick County, where the city is located.
“We haven't had anything like that,” a public information officer at the Eagle Pass Police Department said by phone. “We haven't had anything reported to us that I'm aware of.”
Similarly, a clerk at the Maverick County Sheriff’s Department told the Observer she couldn’t locate any reports of the alleged pet killings. “Nothing’s coming up,” she said by phone.
She said one recent report involved an "unknown male" stabbing a dog, but it didn’t allege that he was a migrant.
The Fox report cited only a woman named Cindy, whose surname wasn’t provided, saying that “in order to steal something,” migrants “killed the dogs.” She also appeared in a video that accompanied the text article.
Cindy wasn’t quoted as specifying which dogs, though, and she added that migrants "are like robbing stuff or killing animals to eat."
More troubling still, the story's headline appears to state the alleged problem as fact: "Migrants killing dogs, stealing from homes prompts some Texas border town residents to arm themselves."
By email, Jon Michael Raasch, the reporter whose byline appeared on the story, explained that Cindy and "several Eagle Pass residents" had made the claims. He directed the Observer back to his original story.
No doubt, Cindy had made those claims; she's on video. But you have to wonder why no such alleged crimes were reported to law enforcement.
Since Joe Biden became president in January 2021, Republicans around the country and conservative media outlets have drummed up fear over the humanitarian crisis on the border.
In March last year, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott launched Operation Lone Star, a controversial border crackdown that has cost billions of dollars and has seen Department of Public Safety officers and National Guard deployed to south Texas.
Abbott and Texas Republicans have regularly decried the border crisis as an “invasion,” language that echoes the manifesto published by the white nationalist shooter who killed 23 people at an El Paso Walmart in August 2019.
Killing pets isn't the only inflammatory claim conservatives have pinned on migrants. Last year, Abbott claimed that the Biden administration had released "hundreds of illegal immigrants who have COVID into Texas communities."
Those comments came shortly after Abbott had lifted Texas' mask mandate, a move that prompted critics to accuse the governor of hypocrisy.