As Midterms Approach, Trump Weaponizes Migrant Fearmongering As Latin American Caravan Approaches

migrant-caravan
Mexican Consul in Guatemala Mauricio Ituarte (C) speaks with Salvadorean migrants heading in a caravan to the United States, in Ciudad Tecun Uman, Guatemala, in the border with Mexico, on November 01, 2018. (Photo credit: JOHAN ORDONEZ/AFP/Getty Images)


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By Tom Fowdy

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Nov. 2, 2018: In a move which provoked outrage amongst observers, U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted that “gang members” and “bad people” were heading to the United States border, describing the alleged movement of people as an ” invasion” and that “the military is waiting for you.”

The tweet, which is nothing unexpected by Trump’s standards, followed suit with an announcement that the United States would deploy over 5,000 troops to the border in a bid to combat illegal immigration.

However, like Trump’s very much fabled “wall” in front of Mexico, the statement and deployment are at best populist, racially driven fear mongering and not serious policy. It’s what his supporters want to hear, but it isn’t going to change anything.

Trump’s rhetoric must always be understood as a form of political theater. In the case of these comments, understanding this is exceptionally important because we are days before an election.

Whilst the president appears to be impulsive, irrational and reckless, a great deal of what he communicates is aimed specifically at a targeted audience and has an impact which his opponents have not been able to muster.

Whilst this does not justify the sheer amount of lies, exaggerations and blatant mistruths spouted in every other thing he says, through the use of simple words, names, symbolism and phrases, he controls and shapes the political narrative at his own will.

Take “Build a Wall,” “Crooked Hillary,” “Rocketman,” “Witch Hunt,” “Trade War” and “Maximum Pressure,” as examples. These are not just juvenile insults, but all carefully designed rhetoric which induces ideas and concepts into people’s consciousness and create narratives of the political agenda, even if they had no basis in reality.

Therefore, as noted with the term “the wall,” Trump’s entire immigration policy has been built upon this type of rhetoric which mobilizes and motivates his core base, even if the empirical results are ineffective or non-existent. How so? Because it appeals to their inner identity and confirms their unspoken prejudices.

The talk of Latin Americans continually trying to pour over the border into the United States is not completely false, but it is nevertheless massively exaggerated and built carefully upon what people assume it to be. Talk of criminals and gangs are added to give a flavor of fear to the electorate whose identity feels threatened by demographic change, it allows people a moral justification to vent their fears and racial prejudices, even though they are divorced from reality.

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In reality, a great deal of illegal immigration to the United States does not take place by intruding over a “border,” but through individuals  whom access the country by plane and oversee tourist visas or other forms of entry.

Naturally, the process to enter the United States has gotten tougher in these areas for people from less developed countries, which is ironically something which didn’t even originate with Trump. Thus, what the White House invests their immigration policy in is a pure pantomime.

Donald’s talk of toughness and “military” at the border are what people what to hear, they are divorced from the realities of immigration policy in practice. Simultaneously, nor are most Latin Americans any kind of threat, but very much a stable, productive and fulfilling part of the U.S. community, most of whom are there legally too.

Consequentially, the remarks should be understood as nothing better than opportunism that of which is typical to the presidency’s behavior. Trump wants to shore up Republican support in the midterm elections, to do that he needs to mobilize his base. He is very much aware that many anti-Trump Democrats are going to come out in force against the Republican Party over the events of the previous 18 months.

If he is to stop that, then there is nothing more successful in mobilizing his support than blowing a racial dog whistle and playing the immigration card. Talk of troops at the border offers nothing in terms of policy outcomes, but it offers plenty in terms of the image and identity he is fostering to mobilize his strongest supporters. (SOURCE – CCTV)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Tom Fowley is a UK-based political analyst. 

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