In our article last week, ” Why the Migrant Caravan of 7000 (Whoops! 5000) Is Not Concerning ,” we laid out hypothetical numbers that even if 4000 came in, only approximately 668 would be left at the end of six months under the Trump no-tolerance policy, and asked what was the crisis. This week we have more statistics on this Trump-made crisis from the military itself which on October 27th made an estimate that only 20% of the 7000 would even reach the border. That would mean only 1400, and under the no-tolerance policy in which only 16.7% of the previous migrant caravan were left in the US after six months, only approximately 234 would remain after that time. So again, what crisis? Currently the caravan is still about 500 miles away from the border and already down to about 3500. Over 3000 have already applied for asylum in Mexico and many others have gone home. The migrants are now strung out between the city of Córdoba in Veracruz and Mexico City, and the remnants are not expected to arrive for at least 2 weeks traveling between 20-30 miles per day. Such would also be the fate of 2 smaller caravans of 1000-1500 just entering Mexico.
Yet in the face of the dwindling numbers, Mr. Trump continues to pour on the rhetoric saying that he would send up to 15,000 troops to the border. At that rate, there would be more than 10 soldiers to greet each of the 1400 who finally made it to the nearest point on the Southwest border. How long would he keep our troops there? A 6000 troop deployment in the Bush administration between 2006-2008 cost the American taxpayers $1.2 billion. A conservative estimate of the cost of deployment from now to December 31st is $200 million. While the numbers are mind-numbing, $200 million recently supported more than 13,000 transitional housing beds for homeless veterans under the VA’s grant and per diem program. $200 million was also the funding amount by the Federal Railroad Administration for 28 projects in 15 states to implement positive train control (PTC) systems to automatically brake or slow down speeding trains.
In addition to the number of troops at the border, Mr. Trump’s call to arms has resonated with militia groups, who are preparing to mobilize to the border to defend against the migrants and further increasing the chances of confrontation and innocent lives being lost. The Trump vitriol has also not been lost on the Border Patrol, which feels more free to use intimidation, substandard conditions of confinement and violence in dealing with migrants on the border than at any time during the Obama years.
To the idea that migrants might throw rocks at the American troops, Mr. Trump initially said that if US troops faced rock-throwing migrants, they should react as though the rocks were “rifles.” The Nigerian Army used his words last week as justification for its estimated killing of more than 40 people and wounding of 100 by rock-throwing protester by posting the Trump video including his words, “They want to throw rocks at our military, our military fights back.” On November 2d, Mr. Trump reluctantly took back the words saying that migrants would not be shot if they threw rocks. However, the tone has been set.
Words are dangerous, especially coming from the leader of the most powerful country in the world. Yet Mr. Trump and his Republican Party seemingly have no regard for the truth or for the consequences of their lies. The Washington Post estimated that President Trump has made 6,420 false or misleading claims since he took office through October 30, 2018. Mr. Trump has been responsible for inflaming and encouraging the actions of all of the fringe right, including neo-Nazis, white nationalists, white supremacists, anti-Semites, Holocaust deniers, conspiracy theorists, and the Ku Klux Klan. His party is terrified of offending him and his base for fear that congressmen and senators running for election will be turned out of office. The actions of Mr. Trump and the inaction or collusion of the Republican leaders in not repudiating him are responsible for what happened in Charlottesville, the synagogue attack in Pittsburgh 10 days ago, and mailing of 15 pipe bombs to prominent Democrats including ex-presidents Obama and Clinton by an ardent Trump supporter. Mr. Trump’s foreign-policy record of divisiveness is no better in driving away long time allies and cozying up to some of the worst leaders in the world. His actions have unilaterally made the world less safe, and unleashed the worst acts of foreign leaders who believe that there will be no consequences or material rebuke from America.
Is there no further reason to get out and vote tomorrow for an entire Democratic slate? The old measure of trying to figure out whether this candidate is a little bit better than that candidate no longer applies in this fractured country with an abomination of a president holding his party in pocket.