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Trump wants troops at the border to confront ‘caravan’ that doesn’t exist anymore

Things have moved rapidly in the week since President Donald Trump dropped a series of heated tweets about the “caravan” of Central American migrants heading to the U.S. border. By Saturday, Texas had moved to send 250 National Guard troops to the border and Arizona is poised to send 150, both in response to the president’s call to send the troops to secure the border.

Defense Secretary James Mattis signed a memo approving the deployment of up to 4,000 National Guard troops.

Apparently angry that he is not getting the funding for the wall he wants to build along the U.S.-Mexico border, President Trump is looking to highlight a threat to national security at the southern border:

But he has also acknowledged that border crossings are at a 46-year-low and that Mexican authorities had succeeded in dispersing the group headed to the U.S. — many fleeing extreme violence in countries such as Honduras:

The response has been mostly one of bafflement as to why the Border Patrol — a force of 16,000 agents — needs help, at a time when illegal border crossings are at the lowest point since 1971.

Even in Texas, which has agreed to send troops to the border — unless he takes the steps to federalize the National Guard, President Trump does not have the authority to deploy them for such a domestic mission.

In an interview earlier this week, El Paso Mayor Dee Margo told NPR that his city — one that has 400 year-long history with Mexican communities across the border — is the safest city in the United States.

“And we already have a fence that was established under the Bush administration that runs through our city, so…from our standpoint, from a public safety standpoint, we’re in good shape,” said Margo.

The mayor also noted that Texas offered in-state tuition to Mexican nationals as part of an effort to create a middle class in the country, adding: “We’re a trading partner. It’s commerce. It’s family. It’s our entire culture. People don’t understand it until they come here.”

What’s clear is that President Trump is increasingly focusing on Mexico and migration as a major issue in his administration as he looks ahead to his 2020 campaign, rather than Syria and the fight against the self-proclaimed Islamic State.

He stunned the Pentagon and the State Department last week by announcing that he will be pulling U.S. troops — numbering around 2,000 — out of Syria, against the advice of his top generals.

On Friday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a “zero tolerance” policy. CBS reported that the directive orders federal prosecutors in border states to “put more emphasis on charging people with illegal entry, which has historically been treated as a misdemeanor offense for those with few or no previous encounters with border authorities.”


This post is from ThinkProgress. Click here to read the full text

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