US President Donald Trump declared a national emergency as a migrant caravan numbering around 7,000 moves closer to the US border.
Referring to the caravan from Honduras, the president expressed his disappointment in the Mexican authorities in a tweet:
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
A national emergency is when executive powers are deployed by the government to counter any threat to the country.
He also added that the US would be “cutting off, or substantially reducing aid” to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
Trump also tweeted:
“Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador were not able to do the job of stopping people from leaving their country and coming illegally to the US. We will now begin cutting off, or substantially reducing, the massive foreign aid routinely given to them.”
The three countries received upwards of $500 million in funding in 2017.
The migrant caravan gave up on legally entering Mexico due to the slow asylum application process and went around police at a border bridge. They swam and rafted across the river from Guatemala before deciding to reform their mass caravan and continue their journey towards the US.
As of October 22nd, the migrants are about 900 miles south from the US border.
In further tweets, Mr Trump said:
“Every time you see a Caravan, or people illegally coming, or attempting to come, into our Country illegally, think of and blame the Democrats for not giving us the votes to change our pathetic Immigration Laws! Remember the Midterms! So unfair to those who come in legally.”
Trump has also made several questionable claims regarding the caravan, which media has disproven.
- Trump claimed that the caravan has people from the Middle East:
Trump claimed the caravan included “unknown Middle Easterners,” in obvious attempts to link the migrants to fears about Islam and terrorism. Numerous journalists are travelling with the caravan. There have been no reports whatsoever that anybody in the caravan has travelled from the Middle East. Trump’s claims follow a report by Fox and Friends host Pete Hegseth. He claimed that Guatemala had captured over 100 ISIS fighters trying to infiltrate the caravan. According to the Guardian he appears to be referring to a Prensa Libre a local Guatemalan newspaper which cited President Jimmy Morales claiming to have capture 100 terrorists and refusing to provide any evidence whatsoever.
- Trump claimed that the migrants are “hardened criminals”:
On October 19th, during a rally Trump said the people in the caravan were “bad people”, “not little angels”, and “tough, tough people.” When Emily Cochrane, a NYT journalist asking for evidence to back his claims up, Trump responded: “Oh please, please, don’t be a baby… take a look.”
- Trump claimed that “Democrats are paying members of the caravan to try and get into the US to harm Republicans in the midterms”:
There is no evidence that Democrats or other donors or politicians are financially supporting the migrant caravan.. Trump made reference to a video posted by Florida congressman Matt Gaetz, which shows people in Guatemala being handed money. Gaetz suggested the money may have come from billionaire George Soros, Trump suggested it came from the Democrats. Both of them have provided no evidence.
In reality, the video shows migrants being handed a single note of Guatamelan currency by people who are likely to be local residents or NGOs. The people in the caravan say it sometimes happens when they pass through towns. It’s usually less than a dollar, but enough to buy some food or water.
BREAKING: Footage in Honduras giving cash 2 women & children 2 join the caravan & storm the US border @ election time. Soros? US-backed NGOs? Time to investigate the source! pic.twitter.com/5pEByiGkkN
— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) October 17, 2018
- Trump claimed that “Democrats want caravans”:
Separately from the funding accusations, Trump also claimed that Democrats have “openly invited” illegal immigrants to the border and that they want “open borders” and “want caravans, they like caravans.” Some Democrats have, in fact, been sympathetic to the migrants. There is however no evidence whatsoever to prove Trump’s accusations.
The White House has not responded to any requests for elaborations on Trump’s claims. It is also unclear if he has the authority to carry out his threats without approval from Congress.