Trump says he’ll deploy military, close U.S. border if 4,000-strong migrant caravan isn’t halted
On a Fox News show Wednesday night, I caught Newt Gingrich predicting that the two things foremost on voters’ minds for election day in November would be the circus surrounding the Kavanaugh confirmation and the migrant caravan coming from Central America.
I’m not so sure about the Kavanaugh confirmation, although if we focus on the circus-atmosphere aspect, Gingrich may be correct. Whichever side of the Kavanaugh divide people were on, I think most were startled by the overwrought political environment that seemed to prevail. The impression of that, for good or ill, may well be particularly important to voters’ choices.
The caravan, on the other hand, is likely to be on many minds, as Gingrich says — if it gets to the U.S. border in large numbers. On Thursday, Mexico deployed federal police
to the southern border with Guatemala, just as the first migrants from the caravan, which has reportedly swelled to some 4,000 people, began to arrive there. According to the AFP report, there are “several hundred” in the group that arrived on Thursday. Guatemala has sent “police reinforcements” as well.
Mexico is also asking the UN for assistance
in dealing with the migrant surge. As Ben Bowles pointed out
earlier on Thursday, Mexico isn’t anxious to welcome the migrants. Asking for UN assistance is actually a way of trying to internationalize the problem, and invoke the obligation of other nations — such as the United States — to take in whatever migrants are recommended by the UN.
Trump put out a series of tweets Thursday morning stating his intentions.
Of course, the threat getting the most attention is the one to deploy the military and close the U.S. southern border. It’s not clear if the president means actually closing the border in a formal sense, which would entail closing ports of entry and cutting off legal cross-border traffic.
It seems more likely that he’s talking about using the military to prevent illegal border crossings outside the ports of entry, and deter escalation from localized demonstrations, which were a feature of the last activist-organized “caravan” from Central America
in April of 2018. U.S. Customs and Border Patrol doesn’t have the resources to decisively shut down eruptions of border crossings and border brinkmanship from protest-type gatherings; it would take the military to do that.
It’s also not clear the direction any of this will take between now and 6 November. I’m not sure radical-left activists understand that it isn’t Trump who will get a black eye from a showdown with migrants primed to demand entry to the U.S., just before the election.
It really does take living in a rarefied bubble to think the majority of Americans view without concern the prospect of being flooded by migrants as Europe has been over the last several years. Focusing the growing problem for the public, with a concentration of 4,000 in a “caravan” determined to defy the policy announcements of the president and the vice president of the United States
, is as politically counterproductive as it’s possible to be.
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