Trump concedes ‘no proof’ terrorists among migrants


President Donald Trump conceded there’s no evidence for his claim that Middle Eastern terrorists are among thousands of migrants travelling from Honduras towards the US border, but blamed Venezuela and unidentified “leftists” for encouraging the so-called caravan.
Trump is trying to make immigration central to the midterm elections next month that will determine whether Republicans maintain control of Congress. He’s expressed outrage about the group of several thousand migrants, which is slowly making its way north from Mexico’s border with Guatemala, and said in a tweet on Monday that the caravan included “unknown Middle Easterners.”
Questioned repeatedly about the claim, Trump conceded that “there’s no proof of anything” but that terrorists “could very well be” among the group. “I think there’s a very good chance you have people in there,” he said.
In a conference call with reporters to discuss new numbers on illegal border crossings, two senior administration officials could not provide evidence for the president’s claim that terrorists are embedded with the migrants.
One official referred reporters to Mexican authorities. Mexican officials have not made any statements about people of Middle Eastern descent in the migrant group.
The administration officials asked not to be identified discussing the issue.
Vice President Mike Pence earlier in the day asserted that “it’s inconceivable that there are not people of Middle Eastern descent in a crowd of more than 7,000 people advancing towards our border.” Pence also said in remarks at a Washington Post event that “in the last fiscal year, we apprehended more than 10 terrorists or suspected terrorists per day at our southern border.”
The administration officials said Pence spoke inaccurately. The figure he cited was the overall number of known or suspected terrorists stopped from entering the country at all ports of entry.
The US maintains a global watch list of people with suspected terrorist connections who can be prevented from entering. Tyler Houlton, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security, later tweeted a message that the caravan includes people “who are gang members or have significant criminal histories.”He said in another tweet “citizens of countries outside Central America, including countries in the Middle East, Africa, South Asia, and elsewhere are currently travelling through Mexico towards the US.” He didn’t say whether any of them were in the caravan. A DHS official declined to answer questions on the tweets. Houlton didn’t provide any evidence to back up his assertions.
Back at the White House, Pence told Trump that the president of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernandez, had told him the migrant caravan is financed by Venezuela’s government and unspecified leftists. “And Democrats?” Trump asked.
“Leftist groups,” Pence said.

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