President Donald Trump claims a caravan of migrants traveling toward the United States includes “criminals and unknown Middle Easterners.”
Writing on Twitter Monday, Trump made a series of baseless claims about the migrant caravan. Just like last week, he continued to blame Democrats for engineering ‘weak’ border laws.
“Sadly, it looks like Mexico’s Police and Military are unable to stop the Caravan heading to the Southern Border of the United States,” Trump wrote. “Criminals and unknown Middle Easterners are mixed in. I have alerted Border Patrol and Military that this is a National Emergy. [sic]. Must change laws!”
Monday’s tweet marks the first time President Trump has accused the ‘caravan’ of sheltering ‘Middle Easterners.’
Considering the president’s past rhetoric, he seems to be implying that the migrants may harbor terrorists or other radical elements from outside the Americas.
Can you believe this, and what Democrats are allowing to be done to our Country? pic.twitter.com/4aDpASkjIU
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 18, 2018
President Trump has repeatedly accused Democrats of somehow being behind the latest migrant caravan.
“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!” Trump tweeted. “Remember the Midterms! So unfair to those who came in legally.”
The current caravan has attracted just as much scorn from the president as the last.
For over a week, the president’s tweeted threats to Latin American leaders. Trump has vowed to cut off aid to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. He’s also said he might deploy U.S. military forces along the Mexican border if regional authorities can’t halt the caravan’s progress.
Last Thursday and Friday, Mexican police briefly clashed with migrants attempting to cross in from Guatemala. Some participants claimed to have been tear gassed; others built makeshift rafts to circumvent the natural border between the two countries.
The clashes were short-lived—Mexico promised to treat the asylum-seekers “humanely.” Officials kept the border open, allowing the members of the caravan to cross in small bands.
Despite the president’s many threats, the caravan only appears to have grown in size.
According to The Los Angeles Times, local sources say there are now more than 7,233 migrants in the group.
The Washington Post gave a smaller number, estimating there were at least 5,600 people on Sunday.
“You can’t even walk, there’s just so many people,” Gerardo Hernandez, a Mexican emergency services official, told Reuters. “So far, they’re all peaceful, thank God.”
If true, the figure suggests the caravan may have doubled or even tripled since Thursday.
Mexican authorities have reportedly warned participants “of grave risks” they may face as they continue their journey north. Criminal organizations have a stranglehold on illegal crossings into the United States, providing illicit transportation services and running human trafficking networks.
U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen echoed the same sentiment Sunday.
“We must remain mindful of the transnational criminal organizations and other criminals that prey on the vulnerabilities of those undertaking the irregular migration journey,” Nielsen said in a statement.
“We fully support the efforts of Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico, as they seek to address this critical situation and ensure a safer and more secure region,” she said.
Migrants told USA Today that they don’t mind the risk, so long as they’ve a chance of reaching the border.
“We are going to get to the border of the U.S.,” said 39-year old Luis Puerto, who traveled with the caravan from Honduras.
“I am not going to stop. I don’t care if I die.”