Why Is Trump Still Obsessing About a Caravan of Migrants?

Last night and this morning Trump continued his rage tweets about the so-called “caravan” of migrants traveling across Mexico.

Even if you assume that he knows what he’s talking about, he contradicts himself by claiming that Mexico has tougher immigration laws than we do at the same time that he threatens to pull out of NAFTA if Mexico doesn’t do something to stop these migrants.

But the truth is that, according to the Washington Post, Trump’s ignorance about what is going on is even worse than we thought. Here are some things he doesn’t seem to know:

  • “The Mexican government on Monday evening moved to break up the caravan of migrants moving through southern Mexico”
  • This is an “annual caravan intended to raise awareness about the plight of people making the dangerous trek across Mexico toward the United States”
  • “Mexico deported 16,278 people during the first two months of 2018; 97 percent of them were Central Americans, according to the Washington Office on Latin America, a human rights group.”
  • “Mexico increased its immigration enforcement in 2014, when it enacted a “Southern Border Plan” in response to a flood of unaccompanied Central American children who were transiting the country and arriving in the United States.

While Trump is rage tweeting, this is happening:

On Monday, Mexico’s interior minister, Alfonso Navarrete, said he and U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen had spoken. “We agreed to analyze the best ways to attend to the flows of migrants in accordance with the laws of each country,” Navarrete tweeted.

As I mentioned yesterday, all of this seems to have been sparked by a segment on Fox and Friends the president watched on Sunday morning. It should not be lost on anyone that he was at Mar-a-Lago for the weekend unaccompanied by many of his staff except Stephen Miller, the aide who has been at the forefront of Trump’s xenophobic immigration policies.

As the White House heralded the “four pillars” they required for any DACA fix, most of the attention was focused on their attempts to end the diversity visa lottery and family-based visas. What was not as widely reported were the changes they sought to U.S. policy on asylum seekers, which would include many of those traveling in the caravan. Here are some of the items included in their proposal:

* Significantly tighten standards and eliminate loopholes in our asylum system.

* Elevate the threshold standard of proof in credible fear interviews.

* Impose and enforce penalties for the filing of frivolous, baseless, or fraudulent asylum applications, and expand the use of expedited removal as appropriate.

* Ensure only appropriate use of parole authority for aliens with credible fear or asylum claims, to deter meritless claims and ensure the swift removal of those whose claims are denied.

When Trump tweets about how we need to change our weak border laws, this is the kind of thing he has in mind. They want to severely restrict the ability of migrants to claim and prove the need for asylum, which is what David Leopold told Greg Sargent yesterday.

“He’s saying that is a bad border law — that the legal way for them to enter temporarily should be ended,” Leopold tells me. “He’s saying that in order to have effective border laws, we need to cut out the asylum process. That’s a radical shift.”

It is a radical shift that happens to be a significant part of Stephen Miller’s white nationalist agenda. That explains why the president has been rage tweeting for three days now about a hyped up story on Fox and Friends.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60 .