In a three-tweet salvo Sunday morning, Trump decried recent struggles with congressional Democrats to reach a deal that would legalize the status of millions of “dreamers” — undocumented immigrants who were brought to this country as children.
“Border Patrol Agents are not allowed to properly do their job at the Border because of ridiculous liberal (Democrat) laws like Catch & Release,” Trump said in his first tweet. “Getting more dangerous. ‘Caravans’ coming. Republicans must go to Nuclear Option to pass tough laws NOW. NO MORE DACA DEAL!
DACA refers to the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which Trump ended in the fall. The program had allowed dreamers to live in the country without fear of deportation.
Moving in a large group is expected to blunt the efforts of criminal gangs and cartels known to isolate and later rob immigrants, many of whom bring large sums of money to make the long journey north through Mexico. The caravan organizers, Pueblos Sin Fronteras, or People Without Borders, appeared to have concluded that it is safer for these people to travel together.
That trip can be deadly as people find their way along various routes that go directly north to Texas, northwest to Arizona or along the coast to California.
Just about every route is more than a thousand miles long and is canvassed by robbers and corrupt police who shake down the immigrants, who have little access to legal recourse. A network of commercial locomotives is veined throughout Mexico in a 1,450-mile cannonball run. Migrants ride on top of the trains, occasionally falling off and breaking bones or suffering severe dehydration.
Members of the caravan said they would attempt to ride the trains, but in 2014, more guards and trains moving faster through stations made it more difficult for migrants to catch rides.
Mexico is doing something — with the help of the United States. Hundreds of millions of dollars in aid flow to Mexico every year, including funds for strengthening its border with Guatemala, where migrants generally cross.
Billions in additional spending authorized by President Barack Obama in 2014 was prompted by thousands of unaccompanied minors arriving on the U.S.-Mexico border, mostly Central Americans fleeing horrific crime waves and economic crises in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. About 300,000 migrants were detained by Mexican authorities in the next two years.
The caravan began in Tapachula, BuzzFeed reported, nestled just on the other side of the border, and no authorities in Mexico appear to have stopped it as of Friday.
Trump’s proposals to reduce aid to Mexico would raise the possibility that the country would be less able to stem flows of migrants and drugs coming across its border.
The president has been caught in a contradiction of policy on the border before.
The budget for the U.S. Coast Guard stayed flat in 2018 despite spending increases across the Pentagon (the Coast Guard falls under the Department of Homeland Security). But the service seizes three times as much cocaine moving by sea as what U.S. agencies intercept at border checkpoints, putting a dent into Trump’s argument that a border wall would dry up the supply of hard drugs in the United States.
“I asked some of the migrants on the caravan what they thought about Trump saying they were going to the US for DACA,” BuzzFeed reporter Adolfo Flores tweeted Sunday. “Some laughed and others said they thought (correctly) they wouldn’t qualify.”