Migrant caravan 1,000 miles from US border poses NO threat

he actual news, as of October 28, was that the migrant caravan of mostly Honduran asylum-seekers posed NO imminent threat to the US. Even Mexico doesn’t treat the caravan as a threat. The caravan is traveling through southern Mexico. The caravan is more than 1,000 miles from the US border’s nearest point. Nobody knows how many people are in the caravan, estimated at 7,000 at its peak. Currently the caravan is shrinking, with estimates running around 3,500. Some Hondurans have decided to go home. An estimated 1,700 have applied for asylum in Mexico. By all reliable reports, the caravan has been peaceful and has been peaceably received by Mexicans along its route. The only unusual thing about this caravan was its initial size, and now that, too, is unremarkable.

The American reaction to the caravan, by contrast, has been off the wall hysterical lying crazy, unrelated to reality on the ground, and unrelenting even as that reality diminishes. Among the right-wing rage-mongers, Judicial Watch claims, “Guatemala caught 100 ISOS terrorists in the migrant caravan,” which unsurprisingly turns out to be another lie (like Judicial Watch’s 2015 claim of an ISIS base “a few miles from Texas.” The US president has threat-inflated the caravan since mid-October, rallying reliable cadres of surreality seekers to raise the alarm on social media, complete with false memes and flat lies. Chest-puffing armed militia are promising to defend the US 2,000 mile-long border with hundreds of armed volunteers who claim they are not out to shoot anyone, but promise to defend themselves.

They seem to be unaware that the caravan is still more than 1,000 miles away from wherever the militia decides to stake out its Alamo stand against unarmed men, women, and children seeking asylum from a country under the control of forces like this militia. This is vigilante reaction, which is by definition lawless. Militia have no lawful authority, but they have the extra-legal encouragement of our current lawless presidency.

OK, to be fair, the president is still somewhat constrained by the US Constitution and other laws, but he’s working on that, with limited, effective opposition. Most political and media sheep content themselves with ignoring the fantasy of the threat and the lawlessness of real and proposed official actions. The sheep are content with thinking the “high ground” is calling for unity – with no specification of unity around what. How does one unify with lawlessness or fantasy? Few take that on.

The government continues to pretend lawlessness is a good thing, a way of showing “toughness” and “putting America first,” by destroying its legal and moral framework. That’s just what Secretary of Homeland Security (!) Kirstjen Nielsen did on Fox News Sunday, October 28, addressing the imaginary threat posed by the Honduran caravan:

This caravan is not getting in. There is a legal way to enter this country. Those who choose to enter illegally will be stopped ... My general message to this caravan is: ‘Do not come. You will not be allowed in.’

Let’s deconstruct that arrogant bit of totalitarian practice.

“This caravan is not getting in.” Drawing a line in the sand 1,000 miles away from the caravan may be seen as tough. It’s certainly a veiled threat to use lethal force. And it’s certainly a veiled threat to use lethal force to pre-empt any legal immigration process (which this administration has been attacking since day one).

“There is a legal way to enter this country.” Actually there are several. One of them is asylum. Asylum is a US obligation under international law. Yes, the US honors that obligation more often in the breach than the observance, but it remains an obligation by any humane standard of international relations. The US Homeland Security capo speaks as if she were the ultimate authority of what is legal and what is not. That becomes true only if she is unchallenged. She’s an attorney; she knows where the lines are and that she’s gone way over them for the sake of political expediency. Maybe she should be disbarred.

“Those who choose to enter illegally will be stopped….” Again we have a veiled threat to use lethal force with dubious if any legal authority. Worse, this construction is a flaming hypocrisy bordering on an outright lie. For the sake of “homeland security,” the secretary falsely implies that the caravan is filled with people seeking to enter the US illegally. She has no way of knowing that or anything else with any certainty about their intentions. In general, caravan members have declared their intention to seek asylum. Many have already done so in Mexico. These migrants are seeking to exercise established universal human rights. Kirstjen Nielsen, with zero judicial authority, would act as judge, jury, and if necessary, executioner to deprive these migrants of their rights.

“My general message to this caravan is: ‘Do not come. You will not be allowed in.’” Nielsen might as well have said: You will not be allowed in because the US is prepared to kill you in cold blood, officially or otherwise. You have been warned: there is no law here for you. We have done all we can to turn your country into a tropical paradise for a military dictatorship, infested with drug traffic and gang violence – the least you can do is show a little gratitude, or at least stay in Mexico, where our destabilization efforts are not as far as advanced.

On its face, official determination to prevent illegal immigration is longstanding bipartisan policy with longstanding bipartisan lack of enforcement (for the sake of those in need of cheap labor, among other reasons). Actually, Nielsen’s formulation here is a less-than-subtle fig leaf for another administration Big Lie: that the migrant caravan is somehow, in the president’s words, a “grave threat to national security” (a term he applied to US media in August 2018 and that his own staff has applied to him).

When a president starts tossing around national security as his justification for something, that’s a warning sign that your own security is threatened, directly or indirectly. Right now it’s both. The president has already threatened to cut off aid to countries that don’t stop the caravan – something he can’t do legally. He has ordered 800 troops to the 2,000-mile border, a faux show of force apparently designed to gull the gullible. He’s considering using an executive order to cancel any migrant’s right to asylum – something else he can’t do legally, but illegal executive orders don’t bother this president. The plotters are hard at work in the White House these days.

[Note: Late October 29, the official White House reaction to the absence of any real threat from the migrant caravan went off the charts. The Pentagon, arguably breaking law to influence an election, now says it will send 5,200 troops to the southwest US border with Mexico. That’s in response to a caravan still hundreds of miles away. The US is sending a contingent of heavily-armed troops to face a much-smaller, shrinking caravan – now estimated at 3,500 unarmed civilians. The migrants are peacefully seeking their legal rights. The US is using force to violate international law. This is a preposterous gambit with no credible military justification. It is based on distortions of reality and lies. It has no other apparent purpose now but to overwhelm the gullible with numbers in a crass effort to steal the election. Someone explain why this is not a blatantly impeachable offense, an abuse of power steeped in deceit, paid for by the taxpayer-victims of the hoax.]

And the beauty part with this ploy is that it really doesn’t matter what happens to the migrants legally or on the ground. American media have done little to cover the reality in Mexico, 1,000 miles from the US, leaving it to be manipulated by whoever wants to manipulate it. Republicans want to manipulate it. The White House knows the caravan is a made-up threat, a fraudulent threat, a threat that exists only in the minds of too many ignorant voters and too many cynical manipulators. The White House knows that it needs to sustain the fear generated by this “threat” for just a week, just long enough to shape the midterm elections, just long enough to drive us further down the rabbit hole of unreality and repression.