YouTube Livestreamers Made Money ‘Hunting’ for Migrants Along the US Border

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During an hours-long livestream at night, Yarbery, Fulfer, and Felix all shouted at the migrants and accused them of human trafficking. Yarbery even tried to sell cigarettes to the migrants for $20 each. At one point, Fulfer threatened violence against a migrant who was shining a torch at their cameras.

The trio also verbally attacked a volunteer who worked with the organization, following her around as she phoned for help from US Border Patrol, according to livestreams of the incident viewed by WIRED before they were taken offline.

Yarbery, Felix, and Fulfer didn’t respond to WIRED’s requests for comment about their actions at the border.

Laurie Cantillo, a board member from Humane Borders, says the organization, which maintains water stations along migrant routes near the border, is aware of the allegations of harassment. “We have noticed an increase in vandalism of our permitted water stations along the border,” Cantillo tells WIRED. “Our 55-gallon barrels have been shot, stabbed, drained, and stolen. It’s a sad state of affairs when someone sabotages water that can save a human life.”

US Border Patrol and No More Deaths did not respond to multiple requests for comment about the incident. One former volunteer with No More Deaths, who did not want to be identified due to safety concerns, told WIRED that they were not surprised no one replied, as the organization “may not want to draw extra attention to this event.”

After departing Arizona, the trio of livestreamers headed to California, where they continued to try and track down migrant camps. On several days their searches were fruitless, though they continued to broadcast and solicit donations through YouTube.

After Fulfer and Felix departed, Yarbery continued to “hunt,” as he called it, and during one broadcast over the weekend, he livestreamed with his partner and their baby while driving toward the border in Jacumba Hot Springs.

While there, Yarbery met with locals to discuss the migrant situation, and in one conversation a man could be heard on the livestream saying, “I say we shoot ’em all,” before Yarbery told him to be quiet as he was broadcasting live on YouTube.

YouTube told WIRED that it terminated Fulfer and Felix’s accounts after WIRED asked about the livestreamers, but it did not take action on Yarbery’s account. All of Yarbery’s videos, YouTube said, were set to private by the account holder. Yarbery has also created a backup channel, and told his followers in a YouTube chat where they could continue to follow him on the platform.

For years, extremism experts have been tracking how violent rhetoric around the border and migrants has led directly to violence, dating back to the 2000s when fear-mongering attacks on immigrants led to the mobilization of far-right paramilitary groups, one of which brutally murdered Raul Flores and his 9-year-old daughter Brisenia.

“Sadly, this cycle of violence has become so common that it tends to go unnoticed outside of the communities targeted by far-right vigilantes,” Burghart said. “This time around, the Black Mirror-like difference is that tech advances now allow [people like Yarbery, Fulfer, and Felix] to stream and monetize their cruelty to a far-right fanbase that craves more.”

This story has been updated with comment from YouTube.

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