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Conspiracies are spreading about the migrant caravan in Mexico



Members of a migrant caravan cross the Mexico-Guatemala border on October 21 near Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico.
of a migrant caravan cross the Mexico-Guatemala border on October
21 near Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico.

Moore/Getty Images

  • Conspiracies and misleading information about a migrant
    caravan making its way through Central America and Mexico have
    flourished in recent days with the help of prominent
  • On Monday, the president
    claimed that “criminals and unknown Middle
    Easterners are mixed” in with the migrant caravan, though he
    later admitted he had no evidence to support that. 
  • Right-wing activists and websites have spread a host of
    false claims, including that philanthropist George Soros is
    funding the caravan. 

Conspiracies and misleading information about
a caravan of thousands of Central American migrant
s currently
making its way north through Mexico have flourished in recent
days with the help of prominent conservatives, including
President Donald Trump.

The caravan has provided Trump with an opportunity to move
attention from the alleged torture and murder of
journalist Jamal Khashoggi by the Saudis, a key ally, and
the news that several explosive devices were mailed to prominent
Democrats this week, to the issue of illegal immigration, which
he has long used to energize his base. 

Just two weeks before the midterm elections, Trump has repeatedly
drawn attention to the situation, and on Thursday announced he
will send 800 US Army troops to help secure the US-Mexico

“We are a great Sovereign Nation. We have Strong Borders and will
never accept people coming into our Country illegally!” he
tweeted Wednesday. 

A Soros conspiracy

One of the most popular conspiracies currently circulating online
is that George Soros, the billionaire philanthropist and
Democratic donor who is regularly targeted by the right, is
funding and organizing the migrant caravan. 

Campbell Soup Co. executive Kelly Johnston, a former
secretary of the US Senate,
promoted the Soros conspiracy
and argued that his non-profit,
Open Society Foundations, is controlling “where [migrants]
defecate.” Johnston, the company’s vice president of
government affairs, later deleted the tweet and his account. (In
a previous tweet, Johnston called
a “terrorist.”)

On Monday, a
pipe bomb was sent
to Soros’ New York home.

The conspiracy that Soros and other non-governmental
organizations are funding the caravan, which began in Honduras,
appears to have come from the Honduran ambassador to the United
States, Marlon Tábora Muñoz, who sent a video of men purportedly
handing cash currency out to migrants in Honduras to Florida
Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz, a close Trump ally. 

Muñoz sent the unverified video after Trump
publicly threatened
to cut off or substantially reduce aid to
Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador as punishment for their
failure to halt the caravan. 

Gaetz posted
the video on Twitter
and suggested that Soros is behind the

“Footage in Honduras giving cash 2 women & children 2
join the caravan & storm the US border @ election time,” he
wrote. “Soros? US-backed NGOs? Time to investigate the

But the video was filmed in Guatemala, not Honduras, and
migrants in the caravan
told The New York Times
that they were given the equivalent
of between 13 and 26 cents by individuals supporting their

Republicans and other critics of the caravan have also
promoted the conspiracy that Democrats are funding the

“Supporters of the DNC are donating money to create
caravans,” read
a post
shared on The Deplorable’s Facebook page. “This is
real Human Trafficking funded by the democrats

‘Criminals and unknown Middle Easterners’

On Monday, Trump tweeted that “criminals and unknown
Middle Easterners are mixed” in with the migrant caravan, later
adding that there are some

 “very tough criminal
elements in the caravan.”

The president may have gotten the idea from
& Friends” host Pete Hegseth
, who suggested on the
morning show that ISIS members may have joined the caravan,
referring to a
recent claim by Guatemala’s president
 that his
government had arrested and deported “over 100 ISIS

There is no evidence to support Trump’s claim — a fact he
later admitted, but not before Vice President Mike Pence
repeated the unsubstantiated assertion
, saying, “it’s
inconceivable that there are not people of Middle Eastern

in a crowd of more than 7,000

“There’s no proof of anything but they could very well be,”
the president said Tuesday.

Bloodied Mexican police officers

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’s wife, Virginia Thomas, a
known for spreading right-wing conspiracies, was one
of many this week to spread photos they claimed showed Mexican
police officers injured by members of the caravan.

But the photos were actually taken in 2011, 2012, and 2014 and
aren’t related to the caravan, despite reports
that some law enforcement officers, migrants, and others have
been injured as the caravan has made its way north. 

Thomas tweeted that “the media won’t share” the images, which
were also posted on several popular pro-Trump Facebook pages,
including Trump Train, Make America Great Again, and
the Diamond and Silk Fan Page. 

One photo of a bloodied law enforcement official was
actually taken during a 2012 student protest in Mexico,
according to The Times

Dangerous diseases

Many critics of the caravan have claimed that migrants are
bringing disease into the US. 

“We don’t know what people have coming in here — we have diseases
in this country we haven’t had in decades,” conservative Fox News
host Laura Ingraham said during her
primetime program on Tuesday night. 

A tweet claiming that migrants are bringing a host of illnesses,
including tuberculosis and polio, into the US accompanied by an
image of a baby purportedly infected with scabies, went viral on
right-wing sites online. 

But the image was actually taken
from 2014 news story by an
Arizona ABC News affiliate on undocumented immigrants
crossing the US-Mexico border, according
to The Times


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