The eyes of the world are on the United States (US) today for two big reasons.
One is that it is election day in the US. Americans will be voting for all 435 members of the House of Representatives, 35 of the 100 members of the Senate, and governors of 36 of the country’s 50 states.
The other reason is a growing stream of people walking from Honduras and other Central American states, northward through Mexico, to the US in the hope of finding a new life as immigrants, but they will find their way barred by some 15,000 US troopers at the US-Mexico border.
The two have become entwined, becoming one big story, as the caravans of poor people walking north to Texas are now at the center of President Donald Trump’s all-out campaign to rally American voter support for his Republican Party.
A lead group of about 4,000 people was located some 1,000 miles from the border last Thursday, while several other groups estimated at 1,200 people were walking many miles behind them. They had left their homes and communities in South and Central America. Many were entire families with children and grandchildren, unsure of their fate but determined to try anyway.
In the last few days, President Trump has been loudly proclaiming his intention to stop them at all costs. Early last week, officials said 800 to 1,000 troopers might be sent to the border. The figure escalated to 5,000 after a few days. At one point, the Pentagon said some 7,000 troopers were being sent but by weekend, President Trump himself said the number could reach 15,000.
President Trump denied opposition claims that he was “fearmongering” in an effort to rally American voters to support his Republicans in the elections. His Defense Secretary Jim Mattis also denied claims that the US military was being used for a political purpose.
Trump’s escalating rhetoric against the oncoming migrants from the south is believed driven by reports that many more Democrats than Republicans are mobilizing for the midterm elections in the wake of growing protests against many of his decisions and actions.
The latest of these was Trump’s declaration that he would seek to stop children of illegal immigrants born in the US from being declared US citizens, although the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution approved after the civil war granted citizenship to anyone born on American soil. (Many Filipino families who once lived and worked in the US have children with US citizenship because they were born there.)
This is a legal issue that will take a long time to resolve, but it will serve its purpose as a part of Trump’s election drive. His presidency has been a great departure from those of his predecessors, both Democratic and Republican. Americans will vote today for their senators, congressmen, and governors, bur they will really be voting on President Trump, his policies, his administration.