President Trump on Thursday stated that the Democrat Party is directly responsible for leading a caravan of thousands of illegal immigrants through Central America to the United States southern border.
While there is no evidence to support his claim that the Democrat Party is leading the caravan, even by policy (Trump himself has offered a DREAMer amnesty and citizenship in exchange for his signature wall and border agents), he is absolutely correct in noting that a caravan is headed toward America.
By inserting the Democrat party into the tweet he reduces the apparent concern over the caravan by making it a partisan political attack. While this is understandable in the current climate – the midterm elections are approaching and he is certainly being assailed by the Democrats – it raises questions about the sincerity of his concerns.
He does not seem to need to ask Mexico to stop the movement; Mexico is acting to do this anyway, by enforcing their existing laws. Passports are required to enter Mexico from Central America, and few of the caravan members are reportedly carrying passports.
This is not the first time the President has threatened to unilaterally cut off foreign aid. At issue are his willingness to go through with his threat and the legality of doing so. Reuters reported that he backed away from a similar threat in August after facing strong opposition from the Republican Congress.
The action of shutting the southern border is one on which President Trump can act, again provided he has the willingness to follow through on one of his threats. Such an action would create an immediate negative economic impact, however. Completely independent of the arguments over the positive or negative economic results of immigration, a military shutdown of the border would slow trade dramatically and trigger significant monetary losses for businesses and individuals who rely on the flow of trade goods.
Perhaps most problematic of all aspects of the President’s comments, however, is this: “these countries, which seem to have almost no control over their population”. For a politician who has repeatedly praised dictators and who has had discordant relations with most of his allied free nations, it is a cause of concern to complain that governments are not controlling their citizenry. The historical position of the United States has always been that the leadership serves at the will of the people, and the sensibility revealed in the tweet is in direct opposition to that stance.