Media outlets have followed President Donald Trump's lead in making the caravan of immigrants moving through Central America a major news story, despite the fact that it poses no real danger to the United States.
As conservative Washington Post columnist Max Boot explained in a new piece Tuesday, the concerns about the caravan are part of a scheme to scare voters into voting for the GOP in the upcoming midterm elections.
"This is simply Trump’s cynical ploy to use racism and xenophobia as voter-turnout tools," said Boot. "And Republicans are happy to go along with the self-proclaimed 'nationalist.' The GOP, my former party, used to dog-whistle to racists. Now it’s a wolf whistle."
The fact is, there's little reason for Americans to be concerned about the caravan.
There is no immigration emergency. Apprehensions of migrants along the southwestern border peaked at 1.64 million people in 2000. In 2017, there were only 303,916 apprehensions – a 81.5 percent decline. More Mexican immigrants are leaving America than arriving. The reason Trump is having a cow is because, after declining for his first few months in office, apprehensions increased in 2018, although they still generally remain below 2016 levels. Trump hasn’t built his vaunted border wall, and he hasn’t gotten Mexico to pay for it. But simply because Trump hasn’t succeeded in carrying out his fanciful campaign promises doesn’t mean we face an “existential” threat – as Newt Gingrich puts it – from dark-skinned newcomers.
And of course, all the anxiety and warnings about the caravan seem to ignore the fact that there was another caravan in April, which likewise never brought any danger to the United States.
"Conveniently enough, Trump and his amen chorus at Fox 'News' never bother to recall their meltdown over a similar caravan of refugees in April," wrote Boot. "Did that caravan unleash marauding hordes to rape and pillage? Nope. Most of the migrants stopped well short of the U.S. border. Some stayed in Mexico; others returned home. The Border Patrol reported catching all of 11 people linked to the caravan trying to enter the U.S. illegally. Another 244 or so migrants presented themselves to U.S Border Patrol offices to ask for asylum – as is their legal right."
The new caravan is expected to reach a similar fate.
Boot noted that this tactic is not limited to Trump, nor is it limited to the caravan. Republicans running for election have used bizarre and thinly-veiled racist or hateful attacks against African-Americans and other groups.
It shows the dark depths the Republican Party has sunken to under Trump's leadership that these tactics have become so common.
"They should be ashamed of themselves – if, unlike their leader, they are capable of experiencing that emotion," wrote Boot.
Happy Holidays from all of us!
It's that time of year when we all give thanks, and we want to extend that thanks to you. All of us at AlterNet are honored by your readership and support. We hope you and your family enjoy a cozy, joyful Thanksgiving.
AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.
It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.
Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.