Politics

Eager to Energize Base, Trump Claims Caravan Has Turned Violent

Video from ground shows rock-throwing migrants as Dems see political ploy

A migrant caravan, which has grown into the thousands, walks into the interior of Mexico after crossing the Guatemalan border on Oct. 21, 2018, near Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico. (John Moore/Getty Images)

Eager to keep his conservative base fired up — just five days before midterm elections that will shape his domestic agenda — President Donald Trump claimed a Central American migrant caravan headed to the U.S.-Mexico border includes “very tough fighters” that had wounded Mexican security personnel.

Reports on the ground from Mexico, where two migrant groups have been moving toward the border, mostly have described rock-throwing members of the caravans, or the throng using its numbers and mass to climb over fences or overwhelm outnumbered Mexican security forces.

But the U.S. commander in chief contended in a Wednesday morning tweet that the caravans, one with young people and the other composed mostly of women and children, “are made up of some very tough fighters and people.”

Trump claimed members of the caravans “Fought back hard and viciously against Mexico at Northern Border before breaking through.” He claimed Mexican personnel were “hurt” and “unable, or unwilling to stop Caravan.”

Mexican officials and forces “Should stop them before they reach our Border, but won’t!” Trump wrote, again expressing frustration with America’s southern neighbor. After striking a replacement deal to the North American Free Trade Agreement, first with Mexican leaders and then with Canadian officials, Trump had briefly lavished praise on Mexico’s government. But those platitudes were missing Wednesday.

An internet search of credible news outlets with reporters on the ground found no dispatches describing large numbers of injured Mexican personnel. Trump did not say if he obtained the alleged information from U.S. intelligence agencies, Mexican intelligence officials or right-leaning cable news outlets.

[Midterm Barnstorming: Trump Channels Reagan]

Trump has ordered thousands of U.S. military forces to the country’s southern border to support law enforcement entities in a show of force aimed at trying to convince the caravans to turn around.

Watch: As Trump Preps to Send Troops on the Border, Here’s Why.

Congressional Democrats claim the military forces would be of little help due to an existing law that prevents active-duty U.S. military personnel from acting as a police force on American soil. They say Trump is using the military as a political prop to rile up his base to limit Democratic gains in the House and possibly pick up Senate seats when voters head to the polls on Tuesday.

The Pentagon has said it is sending 5,200 troops to the border, and Trump on Wednesday issued this warning to the caravan members: “Our military is being mobilized at the Southern Border. Many more troops coming. We will NOT let these Caravans, which are also made up of some very bad thugs and gang members, into the U.S.”

Leading Democrats have criticized the president for his rhetoric about the caravans. For instance, House Intelligence ranking member Adam Schiff of California, who could become the panel’s chairman if Democrats take over that chamber, said Sunday it appears the Pittsburgh synagogue shooter believed Trump’s claims that wealthy Jewish individuals were helping finance the group.

“This shooter also apparently believed that Jews were funding this caravan,” Schiff told CNN. “And so when the president and supporters of his or people around him attack George Soros and say Soros is funding this caravan, they are trafficking in a well-known and historic anti-Semitic trope.”

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