what Mr. Trump said
This lacks evidence.
There is no evidence that “unknown Middle Easterners” have infiltrated the migrant caravan heading toward the United States’ southern border. Reporters with The New York Times and other news media outlets traveling with the caravan say they have not seen any Middle Easterners in the group. No government agency has confirmed Mr. Trump’s claim.
“Trump said there are terrorists here,” said Irineo Mujica, the director of Pueblo Sin Fronteras, a transnational group that has organized the caravans for years. “Does he mean women? Children? The bombs must be diapers.”
Mr. Trump’s tweet came soon after a “Fox & Friends” segment in which Pete Hegseth, a co-host, cited a claim from the president of Guatemala, Jimmy Morales, that his government had arrested “over 100 ISIS fighters.” Mr. Hegseth floated the possibility that terrorists could have infiltrated the caravan. Asked by a co-host whether he was sure that was true, Mr. Hegseth conceded that “it hasn’t been verified.”
This month, Mr. Morales said at a conference in Washington that Guatemala had arrested “almost 100 people highly linked to terrorist groups, specifically ISIS” and “they have also been deported to their countries of origin.”
American agencies have yet to verify this claim, as Mr. Hegseth said. But even taking Mr. Morales’s words at face value, these fighters have been deported and could not be traveling as part of the caravan.
Official data shows that a small number of people from the Middle East were apprehended along the southern border in the 2017 fiscal year, the most recent year of publicly available data.
Of the more than 300,000 people apprehended at the southern border in the last fiscal year, 61, or 0.02 percent, were from countries the State Department deems the Middle East or Near East. Of those, 14 were citizens of the four Middle Eastern countries — Libya, Iran, Syria and Yemen — included in Mr. Trump’s travel ban.
The Department of Homeland Security had “2,554 encounters with individuals on the terrorist watch list” traveling to the United States, according to a January government report. The vast majority — 2,170 — were trying to enter by air. Just 335 were trying to enter by land, and the report does not note whether those encounters occurred at the southern border.
Nowhere in the White House’s newly released 25-page counterterrorism policy or in testimony this month by Homeland Security Department and National Counterterrorism Center officials was the threat of terrorists infiltrating the nation’s southern border raised.
That is because there is no such credible threat, current and former officials said on Monday. “We do not see any evidence that ISIS or other Sunni terrorist groups are trying to infiltrate the southern U.S. border,” said an American counterterrorism official, who was not authorized to speak publicly about confidential government threat assessments.
Asked about Mr. Trump’s tweet, a spokeswoman with Customs and Border Protection referred questions to the White House. The White House did not respond. A State Department spokeswoman said that “we understand there are several nationalities in the caravan” and referred additional questions to the Department of Homeland Security.
A spokeswoman for the department said that in the 2018 fiscal year, Customs and Border Protection apprehended 17,256 criminals, 1,019 gang members and 3,028 “special interest aliens” from countries such as Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nigeria and Somalia. None of those countries are in the Middle East.
what Mr. Trump said
“Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador were not able to do the job of stopping people from leaving their country and coming illegally to the U.S. We will now begin cutting off, or substantially reducing, the massive foreign aid routinely given to them.”
This is exaggerated.
The three Central American countries will receive a fraction of the $27.7 billion in foreign aid the United States plans to provide in the 2019 fiscal year. Some of the aid is earmarked to address issues that fuel migration into the United States.
what Mr. Trump said
This requires context.
Mr. Trump is suggesting that the military can play a substantial role in enforcing border security.
By law, the military — with the exception of the Coast Guard — is prohibited from participating in enforcing domestic policies unless authorized by Congress or the Constitution, according to the Congressional Research Service.
That does not apply to National Guard troops acting under a governor’s authority. But because immigration enforcement is a federal law enforcement task, National Guard troops cannot “participate directly in the arrest or search of suspects,” a research service report said.
Hundreds of National Guard troops were deployed to the border this spring, on the orders of Mr. Trump and governors of border states. But, as The New York Times has previously reported, troops were forbidden from arresting migrants and using high-tech surveillance equipment to look into Mexico.
Previously, President Barack Obama sent 1,200 National Guard troops to the border in 2010 to combat drug smuggling and violence, and President George W. Bush deployed up to 6,000 troops.
Members of the National Guard participating in these operations “did not serve in a direct law enforcement role,” the Congressional Research Service reported. Instead, National Guard troops helped with vehicle and facilities maintenance, provided ground and air transportation, participated in aerial surveillance, and constructed fences and barriers.
what Mr. Trump said
“Every time you see a Caravan, or people illegally coming, or attempting to come, into our Country illegally, think of and blame the Democrats for not giving us the votes to change our pathetic Immigration Laws!”
This is misleading.
Attempts to pass immigration legislation have failed in Congress since Mr. Trump took office, but it is inaccurate to claim that Democrats are solely responsible, especially since Republicans control both chambers of Congress.
In February, after Mr. Trump rescinded protections for the young immigrants known as Dreamers, the Senate blocked three immigration proposals, including one backed by the White House.
That bill included harsh penalties for deported criminals who re-enter the country. It also limited family-based migration, eliminated the diversity visa lottery program and provided billions of dollars in funding for Mr. Trump’s border wall. But it received the least support among the three proposals, with just 39 votes in favor. Fourteen Republicans voted to block it.
In June, after public outcry over the Trump administration’s family separation policy, all 190 House Democrats voted against a hard-line immigration bill backed by the White House, and 41 Republicans joined to secure its defeat.
Ron Nixon, Eric Schmitt and Maya Averbuch contributed reporting.
Sources: Twitter, “Fox & Friends,” State Department, Customs and Border Protection data, Department of Homeland Security, WhiteHouse.gov, Justice Department report, ForeignAssistance.gov, Congressional Research Service, NationalGuard.mil, The New York Times.
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