Who Is Organizing These Massive Migrant Caravans From Central America?
We’ve Asked This Question Before, But It Seems Particularly Pertinent Now, Because We’d Really Like To Know Who Thought It Was A Good Idea To Launch One Of These Expeditions Just Before U.S. Elections?
Update: The story we’re linking to here from buzzfeednews, might explain a lot.
Update: The Washington Post has an excellent article entitled “How the migrant caravan became so big and why it’s continuing to grow”. It answers a lot of the questions we originally raised in this piece about who’s behind the caravans and how organized they actually are. Except for one, which is one of the questions we asked above. (Although maybe it does, indirectly.) And that is: who thought it would be a good idea to do it now, a couple of weeks prior to major elections in the U.S., when it was sure to become raw meat for Trump?
The only possible reason we can think of is they thought it would embarrass President Trump. When it actually plays right into his narrative of wave upon wave of unruly immigrants threatening the homeland by shoving their way across the Southern Border. Or worse: “MANY CRIMINALS” the President warns in all caps as he portrays himself as being the only one with the will to stand against it.
As a political ploy, Trump clearly thinks he’s been handed a real winner: “Great Midterm issue for Republicans!” he enthusiastically Tweets.
The caravans — past and present — are often described as protest marches as much as anything else, and names like “People Without Borders” are thrown about in the wind. As well as opaque references to “community organizers” and “faith-based groups”.
But we can find basically zero reporting on any specifics regarding who the specific people are organizing the caravans and where they are getting money. What we typically find are stories like this one from NBC News that purport to tell us “who’s behind” the caravans, but then really only describe their very broad mission. We’re not suggesting anything nefarious here, or that the marchers are being paid (as some Republicans are.) Maybe it’s all good-hearted local activists and grass roots donations from many people who’d like to see more humane refugee policies. We just don’t know and are finding it frustratingly difficult to get an answer, even from superstar immigration reporters like Nick Miroff at the Washington Post.
In other words: if there’s no story here, tell us. Otherwise Trump’s allies are going to start blaming George Soros, as they do with everything these days. And maybe the Clintons. In fact, one of Trump’s favorite Congressman, Matt Gaetz of Florida, already is.
Trump meanwhile continues to make all kinds of wild threats as the caravan of several thousand people — which originated in Honduras — is now reaching Mexico’s Southern border, including:
• Killing the new trade deal between the U.S., Mexico and Canada that was only just announced. Trump’s posturing on this takes the form of an assertion that immigration is more important than trade. Trump’s Tweets are so rapid-fire and repugnant we really didn’t want to actually share any of them, but we’ll just do this one to give you a taste:
• Sending the U.S. Army down and shutting off the Southern Border altogether, which might be difficult to do since technically the Governors of border states would have to invite that. But there are probably enough supportive Republican governors (Texas and Arizona come to mind) that Trump could put on a good show. And of course there are lots of work-arounds the President has at his disposal if he determines it’s a national emergency.
• Threatening to cut off all aid to Central American countries that are the source of the caravans. Or “STOP (END)” it as he says. Which is an interesting threat because as numbers from the Congressional Research Service show, the Trump Administration has already slashed aid to these countries, and has proposed even deeper cuts this year, ranging from 29% for Honduras to 98% for Nicaragua. Much of what remains goes to fighting drug trafficking. That’s the line in the chart below labeled “INCLE” which stands for “International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement”.
Does the U.S. really, truly want to give that up? Meanwhile, China is already seeing opportunity created by U.S. aid cutbacks in the region, and has been offering hundreds of millions of dollars to support economic development.
The President is also sending his very busy Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, to meet with Mexico’s President tomorrow. (One thing we’ve learned: if you’re working for Trump, you’d better be able to match up with him on stamina, which is no easy feat.)
Pompeo’s fresh off being dispatched to Saudi Arabia and Turkey for meetings about the apparent state-sponsored murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who wrote for the Washington Post, which published his last column this week. Trump is sticking with his assertion that Khashoggi’s murder could’ve been carried out by “rogue killers”. And as we suggested Monday, now that he’s set up that scenario, it could easily play out that way, especially if one of the Saudis now implicated in Khashoggi’s disappearance were also to conveniently disappear.
Trump’s also, of course, blaming Democrats for the caravans. Saying they are de facto supporting these migrants because they support “open borders.” Which they absolutely do not.
This is one of the biggest lies Trump keeps tossing around right now and is going remarkably unchecked. Perhaps because Democratic candidates would rather not talk about immigration (except for really egregious things like family separation) than try to explain nuanced policies on refugees, for instance, that could be easily turned against them in attack ads and/or Tweets by the President.
But if Democrats supported open borders, friends of ours from other countries wouldn’t have been blocked from getting tourist visas during the Obama administration. President Obama wouldn’t have been derided by the country’s largest Latino advocacy group as the “Deporter in Chief”. And Obama still holds that record: although deportations are up 9% so far this year, they’re still way below the total during his last year in office. But as PolitiFact points out, there are important differences: while deportations overall were higher under Obama, what’s called “interior removals” are way up under Trump. Those are of people already living in the U.S., who are captured in raids, at places of business, etc., not simply trying to sneak across the border.
Democrats — and even some Republicans — have in the past supported more humane immigration policies than those promoted by the Trump Administration, and also better ways of taking in refugees — who often are really at personal peril — instead of just cutting way back. Neither of those things qualify as “open borders.” Not even close. But why are we saying this? Democrats should be saying this. But we don’t hear it. This is another area where Democrats seem content with condemning Trump without formulating a comprehensive policy of their own, which won’t be easy, but also might go a long way to refuting Trump’s inaccurate, alarmist claims.