Less than two weeks out from the midterm elections, President Trump and the GOP have embraced what has become a promising political strategy for the right: fear-mongering over immigration. The latest episode sees Trump firing off tweets about a “caravan” of immigrants headed to the southern border of the United States. Unfortunately, like most topics, if your only source of information was the president’s remarks, you would be woefully misinformed. And, that’s exactly the way the Trump administration would like it to be.
Based off of Trump’s tweets and other right-wing propaganda (Fox “News”), the more “deplorable” parts of society now believe that a massive invasion of hardened gang-members, middle-eastern terrorists and people with a vendetta against American citizens are en route. All funded by George Soros, the Clintons & Obama’s and with 100% support from the Democratic party.
As with most things, the truth is roughly the opposite of what Trump is saying. In this case, with the amount of fake news being spread, including from your president, there are a few simple truths we should all consider:
Such caravans are nothing new and annual border crossings are not high by historic standards.
While larger than similar previous “caravans”, this is not a new phenomenon, caravans from Honduras have occurred since the late 1990s.
From a recent piece by Politico:
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said this week that a “record number of migrants” have arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border this year. That’s not true. Border Patrol arrested roughly 397,000 migrants in fiscal year 2018, a figure far lower than the arrest levels in the 1990s and early 2000s, when arrests frequently exceeded one million.
While Trump would have you believe that some democrat-backed master plan is funneling millions of immigrants through an open border, it’s just not true.
The people headed toward the southern border have the right to claim asylum in America.
Abigail Stepnitz, a PhD Candidate at Berkeley notes that under the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees:
Migrants aren’t obligated to claim asylum in any country, but have a right to seek asylum in a country of their choosing, the right to a fair process in that country, and crucially, a right not to be sent back to a country where they will face persecution—or even death.
I used to be proud of the fact America was a place that could and would offer asylum to people, especially knowing that there is a good chance they are fleeing conflicts and conditions that were often the results of our own actions. Maybe I was naive, but I considered welcoming people fleeing persecution or seeking a better life to be one of the things that actually did make America great.
Trump sees the caravan as a winning political issue, regardless of the facts.
With midterms coming up, the migrant caravan provides Trump an opportunity to play to the fears of his base: more brown people “infiltrating” their beloved white country.
Sadly, it looks like Mexico’s Police and Military are unable to stop the Caravan heading to the Southern Border of the United States. Criminals and unknown Middle Easterners are mixed in. I have alerted Border Patrol and Military that this is a National Emergy. Must change laws!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 22, 2018
In a series of tweets, the president has declared the caravan to be a national emergency, stated (without a shred of evidence, per usual) that it is made up almost entirely of MS13 gang members and even “unknown middle easterners”, and hinted that George Soros and the democrats are somehow funding the journey as a political move.
The truth of the matter is that an estimated 5,000 or so people (and dwindling) are fleeing gang violence and extreme poverty and heading to America, hoping she will make good a promise she was once known for. As the statue of liberty 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, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
Even in Trump’s America, facts remain facts and the truth is that all of the fear-monger-in-chief’s wild claims are unsubstantiated and amount to nothing more than political maneuvering in hopes of scaring enough white folks to vote republican in a couple weeks.