As the latest caravan of Central American asylum seekers inches closer to the United States’ southern border (as of Monday, they were still over 1,000 miles away), Republicans have grown increasingly hysterical (and racist) in their doom and gloom analysis of what this all means for America.
Does the influx of asylum seeking families mean the end to American sovereignty? Is it a George Soros-funded ploy by Democrats to embarrass the Trump administration? Could it even be (please unfurl your “Mission Accomplished” banner now)....terrorism???
That last one, by the way, is the latest bigoted and entirely unsubstantiated allegation the president himself insinuated on Monday, claiming that “unknown Middle Easterners” were “mixed in” with the rest of the caravan. (Guatemala’s president did announce recently that his country had recently arrested nearly 100 people “linked to terrorist issues,” but gave absolutely no indication that those arrests had anything to do with the migrants seeking asylum.)
But surely Vice President Mike Pence can clean up this obvious case of the president’s verbal diarrhea. That’s basically his whole job at this point, right? Wrong.
In fact, Pence himself got in on the completely fabricated action on Tuesday, when he doubled down on Trump’s claim of “Middle Eastern” (read: Muslims) infiltration.
Asked point-blank about the President’s assertion, Pence insisted that “it’s inconceivable that there are not people of Middle Eastern descent in a crowd of more than 7,000 people advancing toward our boarder.”
First of all, that is actually extremely conceivable. But, let’s get to the second part of Pence’s word vomit:
In the last fiscal year we apprehended more than 10 terrorists or suspected terrorists per day at our southern border.
Wow, a scary statistic! One, it turns out, is totally bogus. Here is what the State Department wrote in 2017 about its anti-terrorism work with Mexico (emphasis mine):
Counterterrorism cooperation between the Mexican and U.S. governments remained strong. There are no known international terrorist organizations operating in Mexico, no evidence that any terrorist group has targeted U.S. citizens in Mexican territory, and no credible information that any member of a terrorist group has traveled through Mexico to gain access to the United States.
But, OK, that’s from 2017, and Pence specifically said “last fiscal year.” So, let’s find something a little more recent, shall we? How about these public remarks from Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, made just a few months ago:
On average, my Department now blocks 10 known or suspected terrorists a day from traveling to or attempting to enter the United States.
Notice that Nielsen doesn’t mention Mexico, or Central America, or the U.S. southern border at all. She’s talking about in the U.S. as a whole.
Nevertheless, despite zero evidence to connect anyone involved in the caravan with terrorism, Mike Pence chose to regurgitate Trump’s racist conspiracy theory. Why? Because the entire Republican gameplan heading into November is to scare their base into voting out of fear—of immigrants, of Muslims, of feminists, of antifa and socialists, of “globalists,” etc. When you have no other tangible successes to run on, what else is there?