Critics of Donald Trump have accused the American President of abusing his position and using the US military to push his ‘anti-immigrant agenda’. The accusation comes as Trump orders the deployment of 5,200 US troops to the US border with Mexico, presumably to prevent these people claiming asylum or some type of US visa. In an inflammatory tweet posted just before US midterm elections, Trump wrote: ‘our Military is waiting for you!’
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A human rights organisation described Trump’s actions as a “blatant abuse of the US military to further his anti-immigrant agenda of fear and division.” The US President’s remarks come as the Mexican government cracks down on migrants attempting to cross the country’s southern border.
US Troops head to Texan border
Head of US Northern Command, General Terrence O’Shaughnessy, said: “800 US troops are already en route to the Texas border and 5,200 would be headed to the south-west region by the end of the week.” The numbers deployed are far higher than the 800 to 1,000 initially forecast, according to reports.
General O’Shaughnessy explained that the troops deployed to the US-Mexican border will ‘provide mission-enhancing capabilities at ports of entry in Texas, Arizona and California and they will be armed.’ US military officials added that the troops will also have access to helicopters with night-vision capabilities and sensors.
Immigrant caravan presumably want US visas
Since mid-October, a caravan packed with several thousand Central American migrants – including entire families and elderly people – has been travelling north. The caravan’s current location is somewhere in southern Mexico. Reports estimate that the caravan is still around 2,000 miles away, by road, from reaching a US port of entry, where the law will allow them to seek asylum in America.
President Trump, whose 2016 election campaign largely involved stoking fears of illegal immigration into the US, has now seized on the plight of the caravan in an attempt to score political points with his core supporters, ahead of the US midterm elections.
Recently, he warned that the US military would be waiting. The President tweeted: “Many Gang Members and some very bad people are mixed into the Caravan heading to our Southern Border. Please go back, you will not be admitted into the United States unless you go through the legal process.”
“This is an invasion of our Country and our Military is waiting for you!” Trump added.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has slammed Trump’s actions, accusing him of ‘political opportunism. Shaw Drake, policy counsel at the ACLU’s right centre in El Paso, Texas, said: “President Trump has chosen just before midterm elections to force the military into furthering his anti-immigrant agenda of fear and division.”
Drake argued that Trump’s deployment of troops is nothing more than the President exercising further aggression towards immigrant families with children who need US protection. “These people need food, water, diapers and the basic necessities, not an army waiting for them and further division. Trump’s actions are incredibly harmful.”
US Military have no legal right to engage in US visa enforcement
He added: “Sending active military forces to our southern border is not only a huge waste of taxpayer money, but an unnecessary course of action that will further terrorize and militarize our border communities. Military personnel are legally prohibited from engaging in US immigration enforcement, and there is no emergency or cost-benefit analysis to justify this sudden deployment.”
Meanwhile, Mexican officials are attempting to lockdown the country’s southern border to prevent migrants entering. People are using makeshift rafts to cross the Suchiate River in an attempt to breach the border, with Mexican marines patrolling the waters as migrants try to swim and wade across.
In a video shared with the UK’s Guardian newspaper, one Mexican marine in a patrol boat can be heard yelling: “This is to save human lives and provide humanitarian assistance. The river conditions are not optimal for being able to cross by swimming.”
Meanwhile, further videos posted on social media show clips of a Mexican federal police helicopter hovering low over the river, making it difficult for people to cross.
The scenes led to the death of one man, who was hit by a rubber bullet fired by Mexican federal police who were trying to stop a group of immigrants from entering Mexico over the international bridge.
Alfonso Navarrete, Mexico’s interior minister, claimed that Mexican federal police were not armed with weapons that fired rubber bullets, and instead argued that the police were attacked as immigrants threw rocks, firecrackers and bottles.
Meanwhile, Guatemala’s interior ministry claimed that the same group of immigrants had injured Guatemalan police and used children as human shields.
Mexico accused of hypocrisy over visas
However, US officials have accused the Mexican government of hypocrisy, arguing that the Central American country routinely complains about the treatment of its citizens living in the US without the proper papers, yet has been detaining and deporting migrants in large numbers since 2014.
According to US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) data, the number of illegal border crossings into the country has declined dramatically after hitting record highs between 1999 and 2000.
In 2017, 396,579 undocumented migrants were apprehended following illegal entry into the US, while in the year 2000, this figure was around 1.6 million.
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