Feeding caravan hysteria, Trump says border troop levels may reach 15,000

President Trump may call for reinforcements.

As he departed for a campaign swing in Florida, Trump told reporters that he might send up to 15,000 troops to the border with Mexico to deter a Central American migrant caravan slowly heading toward the United States.

“We’ll go up to anywhere between 10,000 and 15,000 military personnel on top of Border Patrol, ICE and everybody else at the border,” Trump said.

Photo: J. Scott Applewhite/AP

The Trump administration announced Monday that it planned to deploy 5,200 troops to the southern border to deter an estimated 3,500 migrants seeking political asylum in the U.S.

The decision to order the Department of Defense to deploy active duty military troops, as opposed to members of the National Guard, has been described as political posturing by defense experts.

If Trump does send 15,000 troops to the border, the force there would outnumber American forces in  Afghanistan.

Migrants cross a river from Guatemala to Cuidad Hidalgo, Mexico, Oct. 29, 2018. (Photo: Leah Millis/Reuters)

With the midterm elections now less than a week away, polls continue to show that Democrats are likely to retake control of the House of Representatives, a scenario that could derail Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda and expose him to multiple congressional investigations.

As the election approaches, Trump has ramped up his rhetoric against the caravan and against undocumented immigrants generally. This week, Trump called for an end to birthright citizenship guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, setting off a rift within his own party.

Speaking to reporters Wednesday before leaving Washington for a rally in Florida, Trump also promoted the right-wing conspiracy theory that the caravan was being paid for by George Soros, the wealthy Democratic donor. Asked about the idea, Trump responded:

“I wouldn’t be surprised, I wouldn’t be surprised. I don’t know who, but I wouldn’t be surprised. A lot of people say yes.”

Soros was one of the targets of a fanatical Trump supporter who sent mail bombs to prominent opponents of the president a week ago. The man accused of shooting up a synagogue in Pittsburgh on Saturday had posted on social media that he blamed Jews for promoting illegal immigration into the U.S.

On Tuesday, Trump told reporters he was “not fear mongering at all,” on the threat posed by undocumented immigrants.

“Immigration is a very, very big and dangerous, a really dangerous topic. Democrats have let immigration in our country get out of control,” Trump said.

The president also said that Democrats had allowed upwards of 30 million undocumented immigrants to cross into the country illegally, a claim that Politifact has rated as “pants on fire.”

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