Trump uses migrant caravan, prayer rugs to defend border wall, despite little proof
U.S. President Donald Trump invoked the migrant caravan on Twitter on Friday morning to talk about border security as the government shutdown continues into its 28th day.
Trump, who is insisting on setting up funding for the border wall before he reopens the government, wrote, “Another big Caravan heading our way. Very hard to stop without a Wall!”
He also alluded to the caravan being a way for people from Muslim-majority countries to enter the U.S. illegally.
“People coming across the Southern Border from many countries, some of which would be a big surprise,” Trump wrote in a tweet, which also quoted the headline of a discredited Washington Examiner article that said prayer rugs were found near the border.
The article only had one source, an anonymous rancher who said she found the prayer rugs. No official corroborated her story, and there were no pictures of the alleged rugs.
The Washington Examiner story was discredited by Daily Beast, which found holes in the story. Along with claiming to have seen the prayer rugs, the rancher also said there were Czechoslovakians caught on another property, but Czechoslovakia hasn’t been a country since 1993.
Prayer rugs, which are used by Muslims, have been previously used to suggest members of the Islamic State have snuck into the U.S. – and were previously debunked as well.
In 2014, then-Texas lieutenant governor David Dewhurst made the claim, “Prayer rugs have recently been found on the Texas side of the border in the brush.”
Politifact rated that statement “pants on fire” at the time, saying they spoke to border security officials who said there were no rugs found.
Trump has previously used the caravans to drum up support for the border wall.
Reuters reported a group of Honduran migrants entered Mexico on Friday, part of a larger group fleeing poverty and violence in Central America.
Previous caravans of people have reached the U.S.-Mexico border, but most of them haven’t entered the country. Instead, they’re waiting at a camp near Tijuana as they wait for legal entry. Others have tried to enter illegally.
WATCH: Migrants from caravan register in Mexico to work instead of risking rejection at U.S. border
The border wall is the main sticking point between Democrats and Trump during the U.S. government shutdown. Trump has demanded $5.7 billion to build the border wall, but Democrats, who control the U.S. House of Representatives, have rejected Trump’s demand.
The House has passed short-term spending bills that would end the shutdown and reopen the government, but Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has refused to allow a floor vote on them, saying they lacked White House support.
The partial shutdown — already the longest in U.S. history — will likely drag into next week as the House has left Washington for a three-day weekend. That means 800,000 federal workers nationwide will continue to go unpaid and some government functions would remain impaired.
WATCH: Latest news videos on the government shutdown
— with files from Reuters
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