On Tuesday, October 16, President Donald Trump started tweeting.
“The United States has strongly informed the President of Honduras that if the large Caravan of people heading to the U.S. is not stopped and brought back to Honduras, no more money or aid will be given to Honduras, effective immediately!”
“We have today informed the countries of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador that if they allow their citizens, or others, to journey through their borders and up to the United States, with the intention of entering our country illegally, all payments made to them will STOP (END)!”
Vice President Mike Pence also tweeted:
“Spoke to President Hernandez of Honduras about the migrant caravan heading to the U.S. Delivered strong message from @POTUS: no more aid if caravan is not stopped. Told him U.S. will not tolerate this blatant disregard for our border & sovereignty.”
The apparent impetus for this outrage was a segment on Fox News that morning that detailed a migrant caravan thousands of miles away in Honduras. The caravan, which began sometime in mid-October, is made up of refugees fleeing violence in their home country. Over the next few weeks, Trump did his best to turn the caravan into a national emergency. Trump falsely told his supporters that there were “criminals and unknown Middle Easterners” in the caravan, a claim that had no basis in fact and that was meant to imply that terrorists were hiding in the caravan—one falsehood placed on another. Defense Secretary James Mattis ordered more troops to the border. A Fox News host took it upon herself to ask Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen whether there was “any scenario under which if people force their way across the border they could be shot at,” to which Nielsen responded, “We do not have any intention right now to shoot at people.”
Pence told Fox News on Friday, “What the president of Honduras told me is that the caravan was organized by leftist organizations, political activists within Honduras, and he said it was being funded by outside groups, and even from Venezuela … So the American people, I think, see through this—they understand this is not a spontaneous caravan of vulnerable people.”