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Pentagon Reportedly Admits Migrant Caravan Doesn't Pose Threat, Might Still Spend $220 Million to Stop It

Trump can probably find someone better to set up barbed wire fences on the border.

Alexandra Minor/ZUMA Press/NewscomAlexandra Minor/ZUMA Press/NewscomDeploying thousands of American soldiers to the southern border because of a caravan of Central American migrants: It's an outrageously expensive solution to a problem that doesn't even exist.

The military said it was sending more than 5,000 troops to the border last week in anticipation of the caravan's arrival. That number now seems to have gone up to 7,000, and President Donald Trump has said he could deploy as many as 15,000.

All those troops will come at a high cost: $220 million, according to CNBC, which cites two anonymous defense officials. And it's not exactly money well spent. CNBC reports:

A Pentagon risk assessment found that the caravan did not pose a threat to the United States, according to a person with direct knowledge of U.S. intelligence. This person also said that the caravan would take about a month and a half to get to the U.S. border.

CNBC's report was published two days after The Washington Post claimed the deployment could cost more than $200 million, depending on how long they stay and whether more are sent.

So what are the troops up against? There are actually up to four migrant caravans making their way north. The first, which originated in Guatemala last month, used to have about 7,000 people; it has dissipated considerably since then, and now appears to have somewhere between 3,000 and 4,000.

Unclassified U.S. military documents obtained by Newsweek and published this past Thursday estimate that of roughly 7,000 migrants heading toward the U.S. border as of October 25 , just 20 percent "will make [the] entire journey." As the Post points out, this would equate to five U.S. troops for each migrant who makes it to the border.

The most likely course of action, the documents say, is that the "caravan dwindles as it nears" the border with "limited" exploitation from transnational criminal organizations. However, there might be a "balloon effect on smuggling."

In the most dangerous course of action, the assessment says, the "caravan grows markedly" and is exploited by terrorists. And if those transnational criminal groups are "upset" by the U.S. military's involvement, there could be an increase in "cross border engagements."

But even this worst-case scenario doesn't justify Trump's obsession with the caravan. The president has previously claimedwithout evidence—that "criminals and unknown Middle Easterners are mixed in" with the other migrants. He has also, as Reason's Scott Shackford notes, released a "grossly misleading ad about immigration" in a clear attempt "to paint the migrants in the caravan as invaders, terrorists, violent threats to our civil life that must be stopped before they disrupt society."

Trump is trying to justify his deployment of troops to the border by overplaying the threat posed by the caravan. But even those who do make it to the border probably aren't criminals. Immigrants—including those in the country illegally—are actually less likely to commit crimes than American citizens are. Are they really a reason to send thousands of troops to set up some barbed wire?

Photo Credit: Alexandra Minor/ZUMA Press/Newscom

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  • Rich||

    the caravan did not pose a threat to the United States, according to a person with direct knowledge of U.S. intelligence. This person also said that the caravan would take about a month and a half to get to the U.S. border.

    Uh, huh. Does this person have a name?

  • damikesc||

    "Come on, guys! When has a large collection of people crossing borders and refusing to stop when ordered EVER caused problems before?"

  • John||

    And there is no such thing as a moral hazard. Just because we let these people doens't mean other people will follow expecting the same thing.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

  • John||

    Yeah, hundreds of thousands of people flooding the border would be no worries.

  • John||

    They've peaked," Rodriguez said of El Salvador. "Unless there's a huge rise in violence or civil war, we're not going to see any major upsurge."

    I am pretty sure putting up a "anyone is welcome" sign at the border would create a major upsurge.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Putting up such a sign would be protected under the First Amendment.

  • John||

    Sure but actually acting on it is not.

  • sharmota4zeb||

    You have a point John. It's like how interest in moving to Paterson waned when the first few migrants discovered how quickly the "potholes in the road" cause a person's car to need frequent repairs.

  • Marty Feldman's Eyes||

    I am pretty sure putting up a "anyone is welcome" sign at the border would create a major upsurge.

    Not sure how major though really. I've said it before and I'll say it again- we *greatly* overestimate how much people want to come here. I know plenty of people in other countries who could come here, but simply don't have an interest. Because most people prefer to stay home if that's an option.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Ok. So restricting the border is no big deal then. Great.

  • Paloma||

    El Salvador has a Marxist president so we can be sure that there will be no need for anyone in El Salvador to flee the country, right?

  • John||

    And US intelligence is never wrong about anything.

  • ||

    "Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided that they'd they go kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make?"

  • Tony||

    It's only right about stuff when it confirms that Republicans are awesome.

  • ||

    So... never?

  • Homple||

    Until proven otherwise, the person does not have a name because he or she is a voice in the reporter's head.

  • Ecoli||

    The president is the Commander in Chief of the US military. If he orders them to the border, they will spend whatever they are ordered to spend.

  • damikesc||

    WTF?

    The military is being controlled by a civilian and not generals?

    This CANNOT stand!!!

  • Wizard4169||

    Civilian control of the military is one of the cornerstones of liberal democracy. There are good and important reasons for this, and it's certainly preferable to the alternative if the historic record is any guide. However, none of this necessarily means that those civilian leaders will never be idiots, or that they should be immune to criticism.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Pentagon Reportedly Admits Migrant Caravan Doesn't Pose Threat, Might Still Spend $220 Million to Stop It

    Reason:
    (1) Trump and Congress ultimately controls the military, not the media and the Pentagon. The military brass carries out the orders of the President or they get court-martialed or allowed to resign their commissions.
    (2) Defending America's borders is one of the missions that the military is actually for. It does not matter that the invasion is being carried out by poor people that did not come prepared to win a war. The USA will be ready. Trump was partly elected for this reason.

  • Marty Feldman's Eyes||

    The USA will be ready.

    The USA was already ready before spending one thin dime.

  • Don't look at me!||

    They are already on the payroll. Doing nothing or doing something is about the same cost.

  • Dillinger||

    barbed wire doesn't set itself.

    you and Shikha should date.

  • Tony||

    I'm gonna go out on a limb and suggest that a majority of the comments on this thread are going to unquestioningly support this obviously political military deployment to fix a problem that doesn't exist... in the name of libertarianism.

  • Dillinger||

    sometimes you're funny.

  • El Oso||

    but most times Tony is just plain ignorant...

  • Wizard4169||

    Yeah, but every once in a while, he actually makes sense. Today appears to be one of those days.

  • ||

    Heaven has a wall and strict immigration policies.

    Hell has open borders.

  • Tony||

    As many noted philosophers such as Billy Joel have observed, a heaven containing only the pious would be hell for most of us.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Tony, He'll is certainly a good place for one as evil as you. Kill yourself so as to expedite the journey. That Drano isn't going to drink itself.

  • Fats of Fury||

    As long as your out on a limb,I hope you took enough rope, if not we can give you more.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    MAGA!

    Enforce US border security.

    Thanks Lefties for telling us about the caravan of invaders, so they can be blocked from entering the USA.

    Great intel.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    If it weren't for you Lefties, Americans would not have known there were 7000 Central Americans planning on violating US law by entering the USA illegally.

    Thanks.

  • Tony||

    I don't want to blow your mind, but they're not planning to violate any US law.

  • ||

    Other than crossing the border illegally?

  • Tony||

    They're coming as refugees intending to surrender themselves, so no. Stop believing the shit you see on TV just because some blonde with tits says it.

  • Ecoli||

    Mexico offered them asylum. They are in Mexico.

  • Eddy||

    I think Mexico offered them asylum *hearings.* Did they go all the way to asylum?

  • Wizard4169||

    Congrats, you've gone so far off the rails that now Tony is the voice of sanity. Tony. Think about that for a minute. It's perversely impressive.

  • sharmota4zeb||

    The president has previously claimed—without evidence—that "criminals and unknown Middle Easterners are mixed in" with the other migrants.

    Most Americans grow up not expecting this, but thanks to the Spanish Inquisition, the majority of Hispanics look Middle Eastern. It's a long story.

  • DRM||

    No, one group of a few thousand migrants isn't a crisis.

    But if Mexico, by either malice or incapacity, adopts a general policy of allowing large, unvetted groups of foreigners free passage across its territory to the United States, well, that is a crisis.

    So the correct reason to send troops to the border is to emphasize to incoming president Andrés Manuel López Obrador that if it turns out Mexico is a hostile or failed state, the US military can install an administrator over Mexico to correct the situation.

  • nutso fasst||

    "...actually less likely to commit crimes than American citizens are."

    All illegal immigrants have committed a crime. That they are less likely on average to commit another cannot be proved. It could be that most illegal immigrants never commit another crime while a few commit crimes every day and never get caught because their victims are illegal immigrants.

    On average, though, immigrants are less likely than American citizens to commit crimes unless black Americans are not counted.

  • Wizard4169||

    Yeah, and you can't prove that I don't have an invisible pink unicorn in my garage. But the information we do have suggests that even those icky illegal immigrants aren't especially prone to crimes other than being here without the holy state's permission. Well, that and habitually being brown.

  • sharmota4zeb||

    I think we should reduce the pressure for illegal immigration by issuing more immigration visas and streamlining the immigration process, but I don't mind the federal government enforcing the immigration laws on the books. Remember, Toledo was a much nicer city before the Hispanics overran it in 1085 in violation of the local laws.

  • Dillinger||

    Vamos Gallinas de Barro!

  • sharmota4zeb||

  • Agammamon||

    Trump can probably find someone better to set up barbed wire fences on the border.

    I know some people who could cut the project's labor costs by 2/3rd's . . .

  • Eddy||

    The caravan is a spectacle , so responding with another spectacle is OK - it would send the right message to bar them from entering.

    If they're refugees, they can apply for asylum in Mexico. If they're economic migrants and the US looks like a nice place, they can apply for admission. Of course they might not be granted, but the burden of proof is on them, isn't it?

    Oh, by all means let them come in and file asylum claims, letting them go pending their hearings for fear of "separating their families." That won't send the wrong message to future gate-crashers.

    How rapidly we've come to the point where the idea of having any borders at all is considered controversial at best and racist at worst.

  • Brendan||

    Since illegal aliens are also "undocumented", how exactly does their crime rate get determined?

    I'll also add that it's irrelevant. If legal immigrants, residents, visitors, etc., commit crimes, deportation is near the top of the list for penalties/consequences.

    Beyond that, it's my understanding that asylum is sought at the embassy of the country in which you want asylum, or, if that is truly too dangerous, in the nearest country.

    Has anyone in this caravan reported on their attempt to apply for asylum at a US embassy or in any of the countries along the way?

  • Brendan||

    Have any caravan members reported on the outcome of their asylum request at the US embassy, or in any of countries along the way?

  • Jerry B.||

    There seem to be a lot of folks who assume that if the "caravan" makes it to and across the U.S. border, other folks in the same economic or security circumstances in Guatemala, Honduras, or El Salvador will just say, "Oh. That's nice for them, but I think I'll just stay home."

  • Randy Garbin||

    In the late 1970s, the US admitted into the country NEARLY A HALF MILLION VIETNAMESE BOAT PEOPLE. There was plenty of hand-wringing and concern and not a little outrage at taking them in. I don't think you'll find ANYONE today who would argue that those refugees made us less secure.

  • Randy Garbin||

    In the late 1970s, the US admitted into the country NEARLY A HALF MILLION VIETNAMESE BOAT PEOPLE. There was plenty of hand-wringing and concern and not a little outrage at taking them in. I don't think you'll find ANYONE today who would argue that those refugees made us less secure.

  • Ecoli||

    And every year thereafter another half a million Vietnamese boat people arrived and elbowed their way into the US. Now we have 30 million Vietnamese boat people in the US and the arrivals have ballooned to a million a year.

    Right? No problem? Right?

  • XM||

    The caravan isn't a threat..... enough to merit a military response. Even if these people were armed militia, we could probably vaporize them before they set one foot on US soil. If they were militia they would have taken over half of Mexico by now.

    But the experts who made this assessment would not support blanket asylum claim for the caravan. That's blindingly obvious. The members of the caravan admitted that they have criminals among their ranks.

    The caravan is a developing situation. They could simply dissipate along the long journey. Or we could see 5,000 of them trying to make a last stand near the border, in the winter cold. To dismiss move as a solution in search of a problem is a bit premature.

    The migrant surge is a logistical nightmare for the United States. Obama was unprepared and just stuffed entire families in detention centers. Trump tried the zero tolerance approach and the number of people overwhelmed resources. Like it or not, the president had to act proactively. If not the military, then a wave of additional border patrol or medical personnel to address the legion of humanity who might act in rash and unpredictable manner.

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