MAGA Hat Wearing Border Vigilante Says U.S. Hasn't Taken in Immigrants Fleeing Hardships Before

A border vigilant wearing one of President Donald Trump's iconic "Make America Great Again" or "MAGA" hats has blasted migrant caravan as "invaders," denying that the United States has previously taken in immigrants fleeing violence and economic crises.

Ken Lester, who routinely patrols the country's southern border to keep a look out for immigrants, told the BBC's Aleem Maqbool that he doesn't want the migrants and asylum seekers in the country illegally or legally, arguing that "our country is being overwhelmed."

Maqbool pointed to the nation's history of accepting foreigners and refugees from around the world fleeing economic problems and violence—as well as the Statue of Liberty, which has long been seen as a symbol to welcome immigrants to the country.

We found Ken, a vigilante patrolling the border looking for illegal immigrants. His teardrop tattoos signify the 2 times Obama was elected. He calls the caravan migrants “invaders” & says he doesn’t want them here legally or illegally. See more on #BBCNewsTen

— Aleem Maqbool (@AleemMaqbool) November 20, 2018

"You're talking through your hat," Lester responded, cutting off the journalist. "Either you don't know what you're talking about or you're trying to convince me of something that isn't true," the MAGA hat wearing man, who also has two teardrop tattoos that he said represent former President Barack Obama's election wins, added.

The journalist then reminded Lester of the Statue of Liberty, saying: "That's what the Statue of Liberty's all about, isn't it?"

Lester cut him off again. "Of course not, of course not," he said.

The message inscribed under the iconic symbol of the U.S. says: "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me." Taken from an 1883 poem by Emma Lazarus, the words were placed under the statue located in New York Harbor in 1903, 17 years after Lady Liberty was first inaugurated in 1886.

When asked by Maqbool whether he believed the U.S. has a responsibility to take in people feeling hardships, Lester adamantly responded "no."

"We have so many people in this country that need as much or more," Lester said. "I'm not a racist but … now we're no longer a country who is going by our laws," he added.

Members of a migrant caravan walk into the interior of Mexico after crossing the Guatemalan border on October 21 near Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico. John Moore/Getty Images

"It's mostly because these people from Mexico have been allowed to come over here," he concluded. However, the migrants in the caravan currently waiting at the U.S. border are primarily from Central America.

About 3,000 migrants are currently waiting by the Mexican border near Tijuana, hoping to gain asylum in the U.S. Some in the caravan traveled all the way from Honduras, in a march that became highly politicized by Trump and Republican lawmakers ahead of the midterm elections earlier this month. The president has sent the military to bolster security along the border, arguing that he is protecting the country from violent criminals.

Most analysts and aid workers believe, however, that the vast majority of those in the caravan are simply fleeing significant economic hardships and violence in their home countries. Low wages, a lack of opportunities and high crime rates have driven many to hope for a new life elsewhere.