President Donald Trump added a new scare tactic to his rhetoric surrounding the caravan of Central Americans headed to the southern U.S. border: mixed in among them are “unknown Middle Easterners.”
Trump made the unfounded claim in a Monday morning tweet.
> The “unknown Middle Easterners” Mr. Trump mentioned are a new cohort on the president’s recent list of “bad people” he says want to cross the border into America.
> At a political rally on Friday, Mr. Trump said some people traveling in these groups headed toward the United States-Mexico border included “bad people,” “criminals,” “not little angels,” and “tough, tough people.” He did not mention Middle Easterners.
> In his morning posts on Twitter on Monday, Mr. Trump attempted to stoke fear about the caravan and urge voters to blame Democrats — even as his own party, Republicans, controls the House and the Senate — repeating what the president has pitched as a Republican mantra just two weeks ahead of the midterm elections.
Trump’s assertion about terrorists breaching America’s southern border is not a new claim — it has been a tool in the bag of fearmongering tactics for years.
> After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, when lawmakers pursued measures to close immigration loopholes, the notion of Middle Eastern smuggling rings penetrating American borders became part of a list of fears about the country’s vulnerabilities. But there have not been any instances of attempted terrorism plots by people from Middle Eastern countries who illegally crossed the southern border. There is only one example of a terrorist coming across the northern border,in a 1999 plot.
Still, the president has threatened to shut down the southern border, as well as end or reduce foreign aid to the countries failing to stop migrants from heading to the U.S.