Tracking Trump’s many threats, claims on immigration ahead of midterm elections

Facing midterm elections forecasts that predict huge voter turnout for Democrats and the possible loss of one or both chambers of Congress for Republicans, President Donald Trump has seized on the immigration issue. He’s resurrected talking points from his 2016 presidential campaign and raised new ones to fire up his poltical base ahead of next week’s midterm elections. 

He’s highlighted the issue at campaign rallies and press conferences. He’s ordered the departments of Defense and Homeland Security to respond to his claims of a “national emergency” at the southern border, deploying the military. And since he first mentioned the caravan of Central American migrants on Oct. 16, he’s tweeted about the issue 34 times.

Tucked into one of those tweets, in between rants against Democrats and so-called “open borders,” he had made the reason behind his immigration agenda abundantly clear: “Remember the Midterms!”

The president has already made major moves on immigration in his first 21 months in office, instituting a controversial travel ban targeting majority-Muslim countries, trying to end programs that have protected more than 1 million immigrants from deportation, and increasing arrests of undocumented immigrants throughout the nation.

But in the homestretch leading into the midterm elections, he’s kicked his immigration rhetoric into another gear. Here’s a look at Trump’s threats and claims on the hot-button issue of immigration over the past two weeks:

Threatened to cut off $500 million in aid to Central America

The president started off with a tweet on Oct. 16 threatening to cut off the $500 million in foreign aid the U.S. sends to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras if they allowed the caravan to cross their borders.

Trump has repeated that threat several times in an effort to get those governments to close their borders and prevent their citizens from leaving.

But critics say cutting off funding for those Central American nations would only worsen the dangerous conditions that drive people away in the first place. U.S. assistance has been used by the U.S. Agency for International Development, non-governmental organizations, and each nation’s government to improve their economy, military, law enforcement agencies, justice programs, anti-drug efforts, and to crack down on corruption. 

Threatened to tear up the renegotiated NAFTA deal

As the caravan approached Mexico, Trump set his sights on Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, whose term ends on Dec. 1.

On Oct. 18, Trump said the “assault on our country” by the migrant caravan was more important to him than the $1.2 trillion-a-year United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement that he had just finalized earlier in the month to replace a NAFTA deal he had long decried.

Peña Nieto responded by sending two Boeing 727 planes filled with federal police to the southern border, and by offering work permits and public health benefits to caravan members. But the caravan brushed past the Mexican police, and only 1,700 migrants accepted the government’s offer.

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