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The White House Is Lying About the Migrant Caravan Because That’s the Plan

A former Trump campaign adviser called the procession of migrants a ‘political gift’ — the administration isn’t going to let it go to waste

Migrants bound for the U.S.-Mexico border wait on a bridge that stretches over the Suchiate River, connecting Guatemala and Mexico, in Tecun Uman, Guatemala, . The gated entry into Mexico via the bridge has been closed. The U.S. president has made it clear to Mexico that he is monitoring its response. On Thursday he threatened to close the U.S. border if Mexico didn't stop the caravanCentral America Migrant Caravan, Tecun Uman, Guatemala - 19 Oct 2018

Migrants bound for the U.S.-Mexico border wait on a bridge that stretches over the Suchiate River, connecting Guatemala and Mexico, in Tecun Uman, Guatemala, . The gated entry into Mexico via the bridge has been closed. The U.S. president has made it clear to Mexico that he is monitoring its response. On Thursday he threatened to close the U.S. border if Mexico didn't stop the caravan.

Oliver de Ros/AP/REX Shutterstock

A former campaign adviser for President Trump recently told the Washington Post that the migrant caravan is a “political gift” for Republicans. With less than two weeks until the midterms, the president and his administration aren’t letting it go to waste. Trump is now spewing lies at his greatest clip since taking office, mostly in an effort to drum up fear over the procession of around 7,000 migrants fleeing oppression in their Latin American home countries. He was at it again on Wednesday morning.

No one is advocating for illegal immigration. The Democrats do not want “Open Borders,” nor would they “rather protect criminal aliens than AMERICAN CITIZENS,” as Trump said Tuesday night at a rally in Houston. There is no evidence the procession is made up of “bad people” or “hardened criminals,” nor is it a national security threat, as Department of Homeland Security spokesperson Tyler Houlton tweeted Tuesday. It is a group of desperate people seeking asylum, which is legal and not even close to one of the most pertinent issues facing the United States as the midterms draw near.

But Trump and his administration want voters to believe otherwise, and they’ve lied shamelessly to make this happen. The reward has been wall-to-wall media coverage of a make-believe crisis the president invented to scare Americans into voting Republican. The pre-election disinformation campaign has been so effective that they don’t even have to pretend they’re not trying to swindle the American people. “It doesn’t matter if it’s 100 percent accurate,” a senior Trump administration official told The Daily Beast about the narrative the White House is trying to push. “This is the play.”

Trump’s baseless claims that Democrats and their donors are behind the caravan spread like wildfire throughout right-wing media. With a little help from his administration, so, too, has his claim that “unknown Middle Easterners” are using the caravan to get into America, which the president tweeted Monday morning. Later that day, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters that the president “absolutely” has proof that Middle Easterners are in the caravan, noting that each day 10 suspected or known terrorists are prevented from entering the United States.

The statistic doesn’t quite justify the president’s claim, so Vice President Mike Pence went ahead and altered it to refer specifically to the southern border. “It’s inconceivable that there are not people of Middle Eastern descent in a crowd of more than 7,000 people advancing toward our border,” he said the following morning at an event in Washington, D.C. “We apprehended more than 10 terrorists or suspected terrorists per day at our southern border from countries that are referred to in the lexicon as ‘other than Mexico’ — that means, from the Middle East region.”

“Other than Mexico” does not mean “the Middle East region,” nor are all of the terrorists or suspected terrorists Pence is referencing apprehended at the southern border. A few hours later, Houlton tweeted that the DHS has confirmed that there are “individuals within the caravan who are gang members or have significant criminal histories,” and that citizens of countries outside Central America, including some from the Middle East, are “traveling through Mexico toward the U.S.”

When asked by Bloomberg‘s Jennifer Epstein whether the tweet referred to people in the caravan, Houlton was unable to clarify. “The tweet speaks for itself but we cannot release the data due to law enforcement sensitivities,” he said.

The administration knows that what it says doesn’t have to actually be true. The mere idea that Middle Easterners — which, as Sanders and Pence made clear, means terrorists — could be in the caravan has been released into America’s bloodstream, which is all that matters. It might be true, which to Trump’s base and anyone else who has bought into the president’s fear-mongering, means it is as good as true. Trump said as much on Tuesday afternoon when, despite the claims made by Sanders, Pence and Houlton, he admitted there is no actual evidence to back up his claims about the caravan. “There’s no proof of anything,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office. “But there could very well be.”

Meanwhile, images of the caravan remain fixed on the screens of cable news networks and splayed across the front pages of national newspapers.

Mission accomplished.

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