The Slatest

Trump Ramps Up Hysteria Around Honduran Migrants, Now Warns of “Unknown Middle Easterners”

Honduran migrants in the caravan crossing from Guatemala into Mexico.
Honduran migrants taking part in a caravan heading to the U.S., wait to cross the border from Ciudad Tecun Uman in Guatemala, to Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico, on Monday.
Orlando Sierra/Getty Images

President Donald Trump continued his regular habit of fulminating at Central American migrants, warning Monday morning of “criminals and unknown Middle Easterners;” threatening again to cut off aid to Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador, and saying that it was the Democrats’ fault.

It is true that there is a sizable group of people who have fled, mainly from Honduras, and who are currently making their way through southern Mexico, but nearly everything else Trump is suggesting is unproven, implausible, or won’t happen. It is all designed to ramp up the sense of threat and lawlessness on the border with Mexico and scare people away from voting for Democrats.

For one, the military can’t simply enforce immigration law in the United States. Foreign aid is generally determined legislatively (and the “massive” aid in question is less than $200 million in planned spending). There is no evidence of “unknown Middle Easterners” in the migrant caravan (this is a frequently deployed—and debunked—meme ). And while Democrats have opposed Trump’s efforts to make immigration law more harsh and restrictive, the harsh bills he’s endorsed weren’t able to get enough Republican support to pass even the House.

Meanwhile, the group of migrants has grown from a few thousand to about 7,000, according to the Los Angeles Times. While they were stopped at an official border crossing with Guatemala, over the weekend, thousands crossed the Suchiate River and entered into Mexico. Of the group, “more than 1,000 caravan members already have entered legally and applied for refugee status in Mexico and are being detained while their applications are processed,” the Times reported.

The group, which includes “hundreds of women and small children, some in strollers,” are largely fleeing violence in Honduras as well as seeking out economic opportunity in the United States.

The previous migrant caravan, while smaller at around 1,500, had fewer than 200 people when it arrived at the border between the U.S. and Mexico last spring.