EDITORIAL: Trump using military to scare voters, not protect border
Let's start out with a few truths.
Yes, there is a caravan of people making their way from Central America through Mexico toward the southwest border of the United States.
The main group has about 4,000 people, down from a peak of about 7,000. Another group of about 1,000 is behind them, and two more groups have yet to cross Mexico's southern border.
Many of them are families, with some 2,300 children part of the main caravan at one point, according to UNICEF. Many of them are fleeing violence in Honduras and El Salvador.
They are on foot. They are carrying their belongings in backpacks or using strollers. Sometimes they get rides. Most of the time, they walk.
If the caravan makes it to the U.S. border, many of the tired and poor in that huddled mass are expected to apply for asylum in the land of the free. The process could take years.
On Friday, Nov. 2, the main caravan was in Arriaga, Mexico, 986 miles away from Brownsville, Texas, the closest spot on the U.S. border.
Are there criminals in the mix? In a group that large, quite possibly there are.
Is this group anything Customs and Border Patrol agents can't handle? No.
In October 2017, the border crossing at Brownsville dealt with 1,085,729 people crossing the border, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. That's one month, at one crossing out of 26 spread across four states. That's not even the busiest crossing.
And yet, President Donald Trump claims that the caravan that has already shrunk by 3,000 people over 15 days and is still nearly 1,000 miles away from the border will cause such an emergency that he's ordered more than 7,000 active-duty military troops to the border immediately.
What a waste.
Troops and equipment are rushing south, with military vehicles packed onto cargo planes and soldiers given orders.
The first 100 active-duty troops arrived at the border in McAllen, Texas, on Thursday, just three days after Trump gave to order to send them. More were on their way.
They're rushing to get there ahead of a group of people who, if they can cross 50 miles a day, might make it to the border by Thanksgiving. It's more likely that they will get there sometime in mid-December.
But guarding the border from those migrants wasn't really the point of the order to get the military involved.
This is a blatant stunt to scare voters right before the midterm election. It's using the U.S. military and its personnel to bolster Republican talking points about immigrants.
Mostly, it's a waste of taxpayer money and resources to further the agenda of one political party in the days before one of the most important elections in our lifetime.
Unfortunately, this degree of chicanery isn't completely unexpected from our screamer-in-chief. But it is a shame that this is what the Republican Party has come to.
What a waste.