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What you should know about the migrant caravan and the conspiracy theories surrounding it – ThinkProgress

As many as 7,000 Central People are making their method to the U.S.-Mexico border, and together with them are a wealth of misinformation and conspiracy theories relating to their motives and character.

Whereas this isn’t the first migrant caravan to make its solution to the U.S.-Mexico border beneath the Trump administration, it is the largest — and with midterm elections solely two weeks away, this one has elicited the most strident response from Republicans and the White Home, who’re leaning on the caravan to stoke anti-immigrant fears in the minds of voters.

To clear the air, right here’s what you should know about the caravan itself, and the individuals in it who’ve left all the things behind in quest of a greater life.

Who’s touring in the caravan?

Hundreds of moms, fathers, daughters, and sons from Central American nations like El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, and Guatemala are amongst the estimated 7,000 members of the caravan.

The bulk are leaving their nations of origin seeking larger financial alternative and fleeing gang violence that has made life at residence unlivable.

“We’re traveling to find a better future for my daughters,” Fanny Rodríguez, a Honduran lady touring together with her husband and their two younger daughters, informed The New York Occasions. “We aren’t going because we want fancy things. I don’t have to give them luxuries, only what’s necessary — that my daughters don’t lack food, that my daughters don’t lack clothes. Things like that.”

“No one is capable of organizing this many people,” Irineo Mujica of Pueblo Sin Fronteras — the group supporting the caravan — stated. As an alternative, Mujica stated, they’re motivated by two elements: “hunger and death.”

The caravan is making its approach to the border by bus or strolling. Many migrants have lacerated or swollen ft, but proceed to march, chanting, “si se puede” — “yes we can” — and are being cheered on by locals.

Story of right now: native Mexicans serving to out the migrants. Take a look at this epic journey from a passing trailer. Others giving meals and water alongside the roadside.#caravanamigrante2018 pic.twitter.com/hGSphwGD7g

— John Holman (@johnholman100) October 22, 2018

Carlos Leonidas Garcia Urbina, a 28-year-old Honduran man, dropped every part when he heard information about the caravan and joined with simply 500 lempiras ($20) in his pocket.

“We are going to the promised land,” he informed the Related Press.

Ana Luisa Espana, a Guatemalan laundry employee, has acknowledged that whereas the objective of the caravan is to succeed in the U.S. border, circumstances in her residence nation are so devastating that she would accept a job in Mexico.

“We would do anything, except bad things,” she stated.

Why are they fleeing?

Only a few of these crucial of the caravan have stopped to think about why its members are looking for entry to the United States.

Lots of these touring with the caravan are from Nicaragua which, as ThinkProgress has beforehand reported, is in the throes of a brutal authoritarian crackdown. In line with the Washington Submit, many are additionally earlier deportees who labored and have households inside the United States, whereas others nonetheless are fleeing gang and home violence in Honduras.

Dwelling circumstances in two nations particularly, Honduras and El Salvador, are so harmful that the United States beforehand awarded Short-term Protected Standing (TPS) to immigrants from these nations, successfully giving them authorized sanctuary and work permits. The Honduran metropolis of San Pedro Sula, the place the caravan was organized, is certainly one of the most harmful cities in the world, and El Salvador, ravaged by each an devastating earthquake and a civil struggle, was named the homicide capital of the world in 2016.

It will maybe make sense then for the Trump administration to concentrate on the circumstances which helped create the migrant caravan, particularly contemplating the repeated, U.S.-led interventions in the area and mass deportations which helped create them.

As an alternative, nevertheless, the Trump Administration is doing the actual reverse, and threatening to utterly cut-off help to the already poverty-stricken nations of Guatemala, Nicaragua, and El Salvador.

In search of asylum just isn’t unlawful

President Trump has repeatedly threatened to detain and deport anybody from the caravan for crossing the border illegally, however looking for asylum at a port of entry is totally authorized.

Whereas it isn’t clear what path the caravan plans to take to reach at the U.S.-Mexico border, many plan to do exactly that. In line with current stories, the caravan is presently greater than 1,000 miles away the closest border crossing at McAllen, Texas. Their journey would greater than double if they modify course and head for the Tijuana-San Diego border, which was the vacation spot of the migrant caravan earlier this yr.

The inflow of migrants planning to say asylum at the border comes as the administration has been criticized for its remedy of asylum seekers extra broadly. Regardless of the administration’s repeated assertions that asylum seekers who come by means of ports of entry won’t be arrested, a current Amnesty Worldwide report discovered that the federal authorities might have violated worldwide human rights regulation when immigration officers detained or turned away tons of of asylum seekers at border ports of entry over the previous yr.

The conspiracy theories surrounding the caravan

Naturally, the caravan has sparked a frenzy of conspiracy theories on the proper. These theories started snowballing final Thursday when Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) posted a video which purported to point out ladies and youngsters on the caravan receiving money.

“Footage in Honduras giving cash 2 women & children 2 join the caravan & storm the US border @ election time,” Gaetz tweeted. “Soros? US-backed NGOs? Time to investigate the source!”

Over the weekend Gaetz doubled-down, telling the New York Occasions that he suspected the cartels may be concerned.

The video, in fact, has since been completely debunked (though not earlier than it was picked up by Trump). It was taken in Guatemala, not Honduras, and these receiving a handout have been already a part of the caravan not, as Gaetz had baselessly recommended, new migrants being paid by liberal philanthropist George Soros.

Gaetz lastly admitted he was fallacious to CNN on Sunday, however by that point, Trump had already pivoted to a brand new unfounded conspiracy concept, that “unknown Middle Easterners are mixed in” with the caravan.

Sadly, it seems to be like Mexico’s Police and Army are unable to cease the Caravan heading to the Southern Border of the United States. Criminals and unknown Center Easterners are combined in. I’ve alerted Border Patrol and Army that this can be a Nationwide Emergy. Should change legal guidelines!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 22, 2018

Trump and Gaetz’s tweets embody two important elements of the right-wing pretend information ecosystem: The first step, make certain you transfer shortly so by the time the first conspiracy is debunked, you can as an alternative focus consideration on a more moderen, extra outrageous one.

Step two, blame every part on George Soros. The Hungarian billionaire, who’s spent tens of millions bankrolling liberal causes, has been blamed by the proper for all the things from instantly financing the Kavanaugh nomination protests to organizing the gun-control advocacy of the Parkland survivors to coordinating the crackdown towards Alex Jones. Soros conspiracies return years, and he’s steadily painted as a bogeyman by authoritarians reminiscent of Viktor Orban of Hungary and Russian President Vladimir Putin. He’s additionally often talked about in far-right sections of the web like 4chan’s /pol/ and QAnon boards.

Who’s offering meals? Shelter? Medical care? Safety? I odor a Soros https://t.co/OtbPgSwvbo

— Dinesh D’Souza (@DineshDSouza) October 22, 2018

The “unknown Middle Easterners” which Trump talked about in a tweet Monday morning apparently stemmed from a phase of the president’s favourite cable information program, Fox & Associates. In the phase, co-host Pete Hegseth claimed that day that “the President of Guatemala…[is] saying they caught over a hundred ISIS fighters in Guatemala.” Although his fellow co-hosts questioned that declare (“Are we sure that’s true?” Steve Doocy requested at one level, based on the Day by day Beast), and Hegseth himself admitted it had not been verified, he maintained his place.

“Even one ISIS, even one poison pill is too many in a caravan like that,” he stated.

Hours later, Trump posted his tweet, making the similar baseless declare.

The “ISIS in Guatemala” declare seems to have its roots in a Day by day Mail article, which in flip stems from an area report in mid-October, when Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales claimed 100 ISIS had been captured and deported by safety forces. No info was given as to who the ISIS suspects have been, the place and once they have been captured, or why they have been all in Guatemala to start with.

It’s additionally value noting the Guatemalan state is notoriously corrupt. Morales is being investigated for corruption by the Worldwide Fee Towards Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), and is accused of accepting greater than a $1 million in unlawful marketing campaign donations. Morales additionally allegedly used assets meant for anti-drug trafficking to spy on and intimidate the CICIG, and is at present looking for $15 billion value of investments to assist increase the financial system. All issues thought-about, it can be extraordinarily handy for Nogales to get again in the U.S.’s favor by saying the deportation of 100 ISIS terrorists.

OK, I am turning into a damaged report, however yet one more: as this tweet lays out, this morning’s “terrorist caravan” fearmongering adopted the EXACT path that the bogus “ISIS is crossing from Mexico” story did earlier than the 2014 midterms. https://t.co/N1LxD8WqRE

— James Poniewozik (@poniewozik) October 22, 2018

What’s extra, as New York Occasions TV critic James Poniewozik identified, this exact same trope was utilized by the GOP throughout the 2014 election — the solely distinction was that a few of these ISIS fighters additionally supposedly had Ebola.

How the caravan matches into the present political dialogue

The arrival of hundreds of migrants comes as the Trump administration is cracking down on each facet of immigration.

The federal authorities is at present weighing a second household separation coverage that may end in the indefinite detention of immigrant mother and father and youngsters detained at the border. A federal decide’s determination to halt the termination of TPS for over 300,000 immigrants from El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Sudan was additionally appealed by the Justice Division lately.

The administration is even contemplating a rule that might have an effect on almost 24 million immigrants already dwelling in the United States, denying visas and inexperienced playing cards to people who use public packages like SNAP (previously referred to as meals stamps) or Medicaid.

As the midterm elections edge ever-closer, the Trump administration isn’t prepared to cease with the draconian insurance policies it already has on the books — it’s pulling out all the stops and trying to encourage his base by claiming the United States is dealing with an immigration disaster.

“The Democrats have launched an assault on the sovereignty of our country, the security of our nation and the safety of every American,” Trump stated Monday night time. “[The Democrats are to blame] for the crisis on our border.”

The worry of immigration stoked by Trump administration has galvanized the president and allowed different conservative voices to not solely crack down on immigration and skirt the information about the caravan but in addition to outright lie about the insurance policies Trump has proposed. For instance, Trump informed USA Immediately Monday that he can be sending troops to dam the migrant caravan. Later that day, the Pentagon stated in a press release that it had acquired no new orders of the type.

“Last week’s statement [that the Defense Department has ‘not been tasked to provide additional support’] still stands,” Pentagon spokesperson Lt. Col. Jamie Davis advised BuzzFeed Information.