The size of a migrant caravan marching north toward the US border is increasing in size even as President Trump escalates his rhetoric. In a series of tweets Monday, Trump called the caravan a national emergency, blamed Democrats for weak immigration laws, asserted that "criminals and unknown Middle Easterners" were among the migrants, and said the US would now start "cutting off, or substantially reducing" aid to Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador for not stopping their citizens from joining the group. Details and developments:
- The caravan: Estimates of its size range from 5,000 to 7,000, reports NPR. The caravan began in Honduras, gained size as it moved north, and now most of its members are camped in Tapachula, Mexico.
- What's next: A caravan leader, David Lopez, says the group will likely remain in Tapachula for a few days as members decide whether to continue the march to the US border, per the Wall Street Journal. The newspaper reports that several hundred returned to Honduras in buses, and another large group may try to seek asylum in Mexico.
- Trump's assertion: The president offered no evidence to back up his claim that "Middle Easterners" were using the caravan as cover to sneak into the US. Reporters from the AP traveling with the group haven't seen any. The Hill notes that Trump made the claim shortly after a guest on Fox & Friends suggested that ISIS fighters could be embedded in the group.
- The penalties: Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador received a total of about $500 million from the US in 2017, and it wasn't immediately clear how much Trump aims to cut, the AP notes. Congress isn't back until after the midterms, and it also wasn't clear whether Trump planned to take unilateral action, per the Hill.
- One mother's choice: CNN zeroes in on the journey of Rosalin Guillermo of Guatemala and her three children. Though Guillermo was once at the front of the caravan near the border with Mexico, she decided their best chance was to climb down a bridge and get on a makeshift raft. Her goal is to reach the US.
- Illegal entry: Many of those in the caravan make no attempt to hide their plans to enter the US illegally, writes Kevin Sieff in the Washington Post. "It's the only way," says a 34-year-old trying to reach his wife and son in Columbus, Ohio. The story includes interviews with others on the march.
- The midterms: The BBC points out that immigration is seen as the most important issue facing the US by 15% of voters. The midterms are just two weeks away, and Trump's strong reaction is likely his way of trying to energize his base of supporters in the home stretch, adds the post.
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