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Republicans are back to trying to scare people with racist 'caravan' myth

Right-wing news outlets are spreading the story of caravans of immigrants supposedly threatening the United States.

By Donna Provencher - January 22, 2021
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Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA)

With Joe Biden in the White House and immigration reform on the table, Republicans are resurrecting the myth of “caravans” of immigrants from Central America heading for the U.S.-Mexico border.

They had been silent on the issue since the 2018 midterm elections.

On Wednesday evening, acting Homeland Security Secretary David Pekoske issued a memo halting deportations of undocumented immigrants for 100 days starting on Friday.

On Thursday afternoon, Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson posted a link to a Fox News report about the Biden administration’s moves on immigration, tweeting, “With migrant caravans heading to the SW border, I fear Biden’s DHS 100-day pause of deportations, even for convicted violent criminals, will only worsen this looming crisis at the border.”

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) also warned of “caravans” and slammed Biden for stopping construction of Trump’s wall at the border between the United States and Mexico.

“On Day 1 Joe Biden halted construction on the border wall. Unbelievable. Another caravan is headed for our border right now,” Scalise wrote on Facebook. “Let’s be clear: The need for strong border security doesn’t simply disappear just because the new administration wants to appease the Left.”

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) chimed in as well.

Explaining his refusal to allow the expedited confirmation in the Senate of Alejandro Mayorkas, Biden’s nominee for secretary of homeland security, Hawley wrote, “On Day 1 of his administration, President-elect Biden has said he plans to unveil an amnesty plan for 11 million immigrants in this nation illegally. This comes at a time when millions of American citizens remain out of work and a new migrant caravan has been attempting to reach the United States. Mr. Mayorkas has not adequately explained how he will enforce federal law and secure the southern border.”

Right-wing news outlets are spreading the story of caravans of immigrants supposedly threatening the United States.

In the two-day period preceding Biden’s inauguration, Fox News spent almost three full hours discussing a migrant caravan from Honduras that crossed over into Guatemala in 42 separate segments that were teased 32 times.

The Honduran caravan had been broken up by Guatemalan authorities long before it reached the U.S.-Mexico border, with some members of the group continuing on toward Mexico and others transported back to Honduras.

Experts say most of the people who travel in such caravans are asylum-seekers working together as they travel for safety purposes and to pool supplies.

Seeking asylum in the United States is not illegal.

Many of the asylum-seekers, including those from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, are fleeing poverty, gang violence, or authoritarian regimes in their own countries.

None of that has stopped GOP talking heads and lawmakers from repeating claims of violent threats to Americans.

The threat of caravans full of violent migrants first emerged as a Republican talking point before the 2018 midterm elections. After the election, far-right media abruptly stopped talking about it — and Trump stopped tweeting about it.

Now it’s reemerged in full force as Republicans react to the Biden administration’s immigration reform plans.

On Tuesday, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio criticized Biden’s executive orders undoing Trump-era immigration policies, telling Fox News, “I think this was entirely to be expected, and it is happening and we’re seeing it on the southern border.”

Said Jordan, “If you continue to put all kinds of mandates and keep people from going to church, work, funerals, if that will continue on American citizens but at the same time you are going to allow immigrants to come across the border, on the southern border in the caravan, I don’t think the American people appreciate that.”

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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