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Journalists Say Trump’s Caravan Claims Are ‘Evidence-Free.’ It’s a Lot Worse Than That.

| October 30, 2018

The Roughly 2000 Honduran migrants making their way toward Mexico, on Oct. 21. (biotchy)

The Roughly 2000 Honduran migrants making their way toward Mexico, on Oct. 21. (biotchy)

By Domenica Ghanem

As the GOP’s fears of a progressive wave in November grow, Donald Trump has made it his personal mission to make everyone else afraid, too.

Over the past few week’s he’s been telling evermore fantastical tales of dangerous riffraff inching their way up to the U.S. border.


In reality, there is a caravan of Honduran migrants — fleeing violence and economic strife so bad that they’d risk our own horrific family separation policies — making its way through Mexico. Traveling in the thousands has helped protect the group from the usual dangers of border-crossing, like getting lost or robbed on the way.

Meanwhile, the media has been reporting on Trump’s response.

He’s called them “criminals.” They’re not. They’re desperate men, women, and children forced to flee their homes, many of whom have legally applied for asylum in Mexico.

He’s accused them of being paid for by the Democrats, to increase votes in the midterm elections. They’re not. They’re people fleeing death who, when asked about this by a reporter following the caravan, said they didn’t even know what “the Democrats” meant. (Not to mention that non-citizens can’t vote.)

And recently, he’s warned of “unknown Middle Easterners” in the group.

other-wordsReporters from the progressive Mother Jones to the mainstream New York Times assure us these claims are “without evidence.”

As someone who studied journalism myself, I have to say the journalists who stop there are doing the American public a disservice. “Without evidence” leaves the door open to the possibility of evidence. That is to say, these things could be true, but he hasn’t given us any proof.

But we know that isn’t the case. It’s our duty to say flat out: These aren’t just lies, they’re fantasies. They don’t deserve an iota of consideration.

Beyond being unwilling to call out obvious lies, they’re leaving out any reporting on the impact of these words from the president of the United States.

These are lies and they are serving a purpose: to stoke racism and fear among his base ahead of the elections.

Consider closely what Trump said in his latest remarks: “unknown Middle Easterners.” He didn’t say Middle Easterners who are “extremists” or even “affiliated with extremist groups.” He’s sending the message that any and all Middle Easterners are dangerous.

This isn’t an accident. He didn’t just forget to use some of his favorite words.

And by letting that phrase sit in a fact-checking article, criticized only for its “lack of evidence,” what journalists are telling Americans is: No, you don’t have to be afraid, because there are probably not Middle Easterners in this group.

It begs the question: if there were, would your fear of them be totally reasonable?

Journalists have a duty to give context, not just to report on whether a sound bite contains truth on a sliding scale. It’s unacceptable not to unpack the racist and xenophobic claims that come out of the mouths of the most powerful.

In fact, it’s journalistic malpractice.

Domenica Ghanem is the media manager at the Institute for Policy Studies.

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29 Responses for “Journalists Say Trump’s Caravan Claims Are ‘Evidence-Free.’ It’s a Lot Worse Than That.”

  1. Well... says:

    Fear will always resonate with some people. Fear of Jewish people, fear of African Americans, fear of LGBT, fear of Hispanics, fear of women, fear of men, fear, fear, and more fear. There is always going to be people triggered, for one reason or another, and politicians, and media, count on that. It brings out voters, it brings in readers, it makes pages active with comments. Social media thrives as both sides wage war against each other. It’s all a psychological game play.

    With that said, are there criminals in this caravan? I’m sure yes there are some. The amount of people convicted of a crime in this country alone, if you include the most basic of offenses, exceeds 100 million people. 100 million have been found guilty of things as simple as “disturbing the peace” all the way up to murder. That’s a lot of criminals in this country, many of whom are not in jail, walking freely among those of us that have never received a citation, let alone been talked to by a policeman. Should I demand these criminals be rounded up and sent somewhere because they are mingling with me, someone with a crystal clean record? No and I wouldn’t know just by looking at someone if they were ever charged with a crime. Similarly, the people in this caravan probably have a similar criminal range as our society–from nothing to petty misdemeanors to murder. There is no way to know without vetting every single person.

    As to the other claim about Middle Easterner’s joining the caravan, well, look around this country. There are millions of people of different ethnic origins and when they march in protest do we say, “Hey, look at that group being infiltrated by._____.” No, we don’t. Are there people other than native Honduran migrants in this caravan? Unknown. Who is to say who moved to Honduras thinking it was a good place to live only to find it’s not and joined this caravan seeking help. Unless you personally go in and ask for each person’s birth certificate, one will never know for certain who is in the caravan, and that is just common sense. And just because they are from the Middle East does not mean they are terrorists–did anyone see the news this last week? We have a Native American and a white man…hardly Middle Eastern.

    With that said, neither of these things should make us stop this caravan from coming into this country. We shouldn’t stop them because of their hardships and because they are seeking a better life. No, we need to stop them because when my ancestors came here from Europe, they were required to register. They were required to obtain citizenship. I am working on obtaining citizenship to a country in Europe. Did I leave here and seek asylum? Am I “visiting” but really staying? Am I breaking laws because this is a country I intend to move to at least part of the year so I can retain dual-citizenship both here and there? No, I’m doing it the right way. My ancestors did it the right way. I am very much against people breaking the law. Yes, these people are having a hard time right now but guess what, so are Americans. All this talk about economy, economy, economy, well it only helps those that already have, it doesn’t help those that never did. I see more people using food stamps now than I ever did. I see more people needing help and assistance than ever before. The divide in this country between the ones that have and the ones that don’t is almost as wide as this country is from coast to coast. Sure, there are jobs, low-paying jobs that require people to work two and three jobs. Of course, you can say, “Well those are the breaks in life,” or, ‘They should be happy they have a job.” Look around, what makes the people that have something any better then those that don’t? Nothing except one thing–money. There is a reason why people cannot better themselves, and it has everything to do with opportunity and judgement, and yes, judgement plays a huge role in society in determining who does and does not receive a chance. That is how this country, and this world works. Before we open our doors and accept all those coming from failing systems, without any opportunity, how about we help our own get out of poverty, give them an opportunity to make a better life, and allow them the same breaks we give those that break the law and enter this country illegally.

  2. Mark says:

    How many of the peace loving immigrants are you taking into your home? Has every member of the caravan been checked? I think not. Thanks for trying to expound on left wing talking points.

  3. Yellowstone says:

    For those who only listen to Fox News locate vis google the following: “Fox News’ Shepard Smith on caravan of migrants: ‘There is no invasion’”

    Shephard Smith (Fox news director) is addressing those on his own network and all here in Flagler who are in a ‘panty bind’ to listen to reason and objective journalism.

  4. Hank says:

    When will Trump begin addressing the people and not just his base? When will Trump take a position against white nationalism? Hopefully his deplorable response to the events of the past week will be seen for what it is, an appeal to the worst elements of his base. Gallup has his rating dropping 4 points this week. Hopefully Americans are waking up! The press is not the enemy of the people, Trump. You are.

  5. RobJr says:

    Gotta watch those brown people. They are on their way to take over the country, they have illnesses and the caravan is full of middle easterners.

    So the dummy is going to try and change the Constitution by executive order.

    What is pathetic is as he travels around to his triple K meetings and makes those pronouncements his idiots believe him.

  6. woody says:

    Hey,what’s a few more thousand people on lifetime welfare.

  7. Ken says:

    This is a planned invasion! Plain & simple!

  8. Fredrick says:

    Welcome to come and be part of the melting pot that makes this country great. Just get in line and do it legally just as my family has done. That is all that is being asked. We are a country of laws. If you don’t like them change. them. Both sides should stop spinning it any other way….

  9. Vinny says:

    Go President TRUMP

    MAGA

  10. Traveling Rep says:

    This article completely ignores the that these so called “asylum seekers “ have already been offered asylum and welfare assistance by Mexico. The point of them entering the U.S. (to escape the dangers in their home country) has been addressed by Mexico. Beggars can’t be choosers!

  11. onthefly says:

    More then 2018 years ago there were 2 refugees that fled their country due to fear that their expectant baby would be killed by King Herod.
    Mary and Joseph were able to find refuge,and Jesus was born.
    Makes you think, doesn’t it?

  12. gmath55 says:

    WOW! Well responded with an excellent comment. I didn’t know that unknown and dangerous meant the same thing. Talk about journalistic malpractice.

    Cool, more California Tent Cities. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=45qSj4_DVxs

    Flashback: Democrats Charles Schumer, Hillary Clinton, and Barrack Obama echo Trump on immigration.

  13. mark101 says:

    I don’t like Trump at all, but Other Words has NO clue if there are criminals or not in that progression of people coming to the US boarder. Speculation by the media is no better than Trump.

    Also, we cannot even take care of our own citizens that are below the poverty level and we democratics want to allow more poverty level people into the US for the TAXPAYERS to take care of. Not for it at all.

  14. TPG - Voice of Truth says:

    Tump is leading America down the path of rabid racial hatred and white nationalism. Stoking the white nationalists’ fear of losing racial identity is a time-warn fascist tactic to build momentum toward a totalitarian dictatorship. If Trump can send armed troops to the border to confront the refugees, and those troops react violently, Trump has his compliant brownshirts. And if Trump can merely issue an executive order to dismiss the 14th amendment without Republican congressional opposition or judicial constraint, Trump has his dictatorship. It’s that simple. We should be afraid, very afraid!

  15. oldtimer says:

    If these people only want asylum because of persecution in their home country why don’t they stop when they reach Mexico or Guatamala? Both are spanish speaking countries and both allow passage into their countries. Is it because neither has food stamps and welfare?Just thinking

  16. Trailer Bob says:

    OK, now that I have wiped my tears of sorry…NOT! I believe that many people, including myself, have no problem with people loving our country and wishing to live here. There are many reasons why someone would want to come here, including financial health and work opportunities. That said, I do not want undocumented people, coming from God knows where, and with health issues that cannot be known, just walking in to the US because they have a sad story. I cannot even overstay my vacations to Jamaica without being jailed, stripped of all my money, then sent back to the US. And I am educated and have no criminal record or history. What makes it OK for thousands with little or no education, no understanding of the English language, and most likely no significant assets to just ignore our immigration rules and process because they want more out of life than they are getting at home? Our country has a process for getting and staying here. Anything other than allowing that process to occur is criminal on both the illegal immigrants and those US citizens who are hired and paid to protect our country and follow the immigration regulations and processes. So I say YES…let them in and welcome them to America, as long as they go through the process that is law in our country. I mean really…we are busting our own citizens for smoking a little weed, but are able to justify a caravan of unknown persons to just come on in???? Really???

  17. Sherry says:

    Once again. . . please realize there is NO LONGER an Ellis Island.

    Due mainly to Congressional failure, our country does NOT have a reasonable PROCESS whereby a “poor refugee” can apply for asylum and create a path to citizenship in any kind of timely fashion. The current process is ridiculously complex and requires the expertise of an expensive attorney to even START the process. . . which is likely to take several years, due to the complexity and the backlog of cases. . . during that time the applicant must remain in the USA and somehow “magically” create the money need to survive and pay the lawyers. Take a good read:

    .https://www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org/research/asylum-united-states

    Is it possible that the “Legal Immigration” system is a big SCAM to line the pockets of lawyers and bureaucrats. . . just like our health care system that is filled with high profit middlemen in the form of insurance companies??? You bet ya! “Capitalism and GREED run amok”!!!!

  18. I live here too says:

    Sherry are you going to clothe and feed any of these people out of your pocket? If not don’t ask me to do it

  19. Nancy N. says:

    Fredrick – the migrants in the caravan ARE trying to come here legally! There’s currently no real way to come here legally from Honduras except to apply for asylum. To apply for asylum, you have to be actually in the U.S. – it can’t be done from an embassy or other location outside of the U.S. You have to present yourself at a border crossing, step onto U.S. soil, and declare you are requesting asylum.

  20. Sherry says:

    To those who are trembling in “fear” of the poor and disenfranchised who are fleeing in terror. . . count your incredibly lucky stars that you were not born into such a terrible situation.

    YES! I would much rather my tax dollars be spent on feeding the starving than paying millions for soldiers to go to the border as a political stunt by trump.

    And, what about the costs for weapons of WAR? BILLIONS that could feed millions!

  21. jake says:

    @sherry, assuming you are not on some type of welfare, your complaint against “capitalism’ is hypocritical. Capitalism is what made your lifestyle possible, and your ability to buy a computer to state publically such nonsense.

  22. Bill says:

    I believe legal immigration is part of the American fabric of life. I believe illegals destroy that fabric. Illegals should not be given any benefits, employers of illegals should be fined to the point it puts them out of business, and mayors of sanctuary cities should be prosecuted for aiding and abetting, interfering with the function of law enforcement, and malfeasance of office. The idea of voting, drivers licenses, or government assistance is out of the question. Then we will see how many really want to be here.

  23. Sherry says:

    As Nancy N. correctly pointed out. . . to seek asylum, a person fleeing their own country MUST presnt themselves at a US Border crossing.

    For those who actually CARE ABOUT FACTS. . . here is a “Fact Check” from the Associated Press:

    TRUMP: “At this very moment, large well-organized caravans of migrants are marching towards our southern border. Some people call it an invasion. …These are tough people in many cases; a lot of young men, strong men and a lot of men that maybe we don’t want in our country. …This isn’t an innocent group of people. It’s a large number of people that are tough. They have injured, they have attacked.” — immigration speech Thursday.

    THE FACTS: He suggests without evidence that people in the caravans are, by and large, dangerous, hardened criminals.

    The migrants in the caravans are mostly from Honduras, where it started, as well as El Salvador and Guatemala. Overall, they are poor, carrying the belongings that fit into a knapsack and fleeing gang violence or poverty.

    It might be true there are some criminals mixed in with the throngs, given the sheer number of migrants. Trump did not substantiate his claim that members of the MS-13 gang, in particular, are among them.

    Some migrants in one of the caravans clashed with Mexican police at the Mexico-Guatemala border, hurling stones and other objects as they tried to cross the international bridge. One migrant died; it’s not clear how it happened. Caravan leaders said they had expelled a number of troublemakers from the procession, exhibiting some self-policing. Ultimately, most entered Guatemala — and later, Mexico — by illegally bypassing immigration checkpoints.

    The caravan otherwise has been overwhelmingly peaceful, receiving applause and donated food from residents of the towns they pass. Mexican police have not tried again to stop them.

    The Department of Homeland Security issued a fact sheet stating that “over 270 individuals along the caravan route have criminal histories, including known gang membership.” But it did not specify how it had arrived at that number.

    ___

    TRUMP: “President Obama separated the children from parents and nobody complained. When we continued the exact same law, the country went crazy.” — immigration speech Thursday.

    THE FACTS: Actually, President Barack Obama did not do the same thing as a matter of policy.

    While it’s true the underlying laws were the same, the Trump administration mandated anyone caught crossing the border illegally was to be criminally prosecuted. That policy meant adults were taken to court for criminal proceedings, and their children were separated and sent into the care of the Health and Human Services Department, which is tasked with caring for unaccompanied migrant children. The so-called zero tolerance policy remains in effect, but Trump signed an executive order June 20 that stopped separations.

    Jeh Johnson, Obama’s homeland security secretary, recently told NPR there may have been unusual or emergency circumstances when children were taken from parents, but there was no such policy.

    ___

    TRUMP: “Asylum is not a program for those living in poverty.” — speech Thursday.

    THE FACTS: He’s largely right. Poverty may play a role in the complex decision process granting asylum, but the status is reserved for people who have a justifiable fear of persecution in their own country based on factors such as their race, religion or political views. According to the Homeland Security Department, about 20 percent of claimants are granted asylum. Currently, there is a backlog of about 700,000 cases, and it can take years for claims to get resolved.

    ___

    TRUMP: “We’re not doing releases. What’s been happening over years is they would come in, release them, and they would never show up for their trial. And we now have 25 or 30 million people in this country illegally, because of what’s been happening over many years.” — remarks Wednesday to reporters.

    THE FACTS: It’s nowhere close to 25 million to 30 million, nor has the number increased much in recent years.

    The nonpartisan Pew Research Center estimates there were about 11.3 million immigrants in the U.S. illegally in 2016, the most recent data available. That number is basically unchanged from 2009.

    The number of such immigrants had reached a height of 12.2 million in 2007, representing about 4 percent of the U.S. population, before declining due in part to a weakening U.S. economy.

  24. jake says:

    Asylum has been granted in every country this caravan passes through. It’s not about asylum, otherwise the caravan would stop in Mexico, it’s about gaining entry into the United States. None should be allowed to enter, all should be turned away.

  25. capt says:

    Thats ok, the democrats when elected and will take over the house, will house, feed, provide medical and provide for them an education for all illegals, So what happens to our own poor, when do they get these same benefits. . When do illegal immigrants take priority over a US Citizen.

  26. Mary Fusco says:

    Sherry, this country cannot manage to feed the starving people that already live here. We have children sleeping in cars, on streets who are going hungry every day. We have veterans who cannot get proper medical care, are homeless, unemployed and hungry as well. I would assume that for the most part this caravan of people have not had medical care, nor are the adults or children vaccinated against diseases. Yet they will be interacting with US citizens. When we have no homeless people, starving people, everyone has adequate medical care, no one standing on food pantry lines for hours. we should consider helping others. Charity begins at home. No other country in the world allows people to come and go as they please. That’s why the US is so popular with nonconforming people.

  27. Sherry says:

    Dear Mary,

    Come on girl. . . don’t cower under the bed that FOX built. I’ve been to Mexico and other hispanic countries many times. Being poor is not contiguous and that brown skin won’t rub off on you.

    But, you are so right. . . obviously in many ways. . . we absolutely should be doing much more to provide for our own citizens, instead of:

    1. Lowering Taxes for “Billionaires” (trump)
    2. Not extending Medicaid benefits (Rick Scott “Republican” governor of Florida)
    3. Discontinuing affordable health care coverage for citizens with “pre-existing” conditions (Republicans/trump)
    4. Refusing to implement sensible “gun safety” regulations (Republicans). . . and on. . . and on. . . and on

    Mary, we are powerful women. . . we can walk and chew gum at the same time. We CAN do much better for own own citizens AND help those in desperate need AT THE SAME TIME. These two things are NOT mutually exclusive.

    Our country “IS” the land of immigrants. Mary, unless you are a full blooded American indian, your ancestors were immigrants. Unless you are descended directly from “Royalty” or “Billionaires”. . . it’s highly likely that your very own ancestors were not “vaccinated against diseases.”

    So, is what you are saying is that “you and your family have your piece of the American dream’. . . now it’s time to close that gate to everyone else. . . especially those who are not lily white? Do you really believe that those who are poor or have a different color skin than yours are inferior and less deserving than you and your own ancestors? If so, Mary, you should think very hard about the true meaning of your life and your place in the universe. .

  28. gmath55 says:

    Hey! Hey! for Mary Fusco. You are absolutely correct. To bad Sherry doesn’t get it! America first Sherry.

  29. Alphonse Abonte says:

    How about we take all this effort aimed towards this caravan and direct towards OUR homeless veterans you so called AMERICANS that say that fear is the component of all this. Shame on you professing to be GOD fearing AMERICANS when you care for non AMERICANS more than our veterans. Mainly Democrats , is Democrats can not control the masses, they whine and destroy the American way of life by controlling the media with their trashing of the current admin.

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