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The Migration Disconnect

Why Central Americans Will Keep on Heading to the United States

Central American migrants walk along a highway in southern Mexico, October 2018.  Ueslei Marcelino/REUTERS

As thousands of migrants from Central America slowly make their way through Mexico and toward the U.S. border, President Donald Trump’s administration has hewed to its hard-line message. Trump has promised to stop the caravan, calling it an invasion and claiming that “Middle Easterners” were in its midst. Last week, the U.S. Department of Defense announced that it would deploy 5,200 soldiers to the U.S.-Mexican border ahead of the caravan’s arrival. Already, the first contingent of soldiers is putting up barbed wire.

Like the government’s much-touted border wall, the troop deployment illustrates Trump’s portrayal of Central American immigration as a serious national security threat to the United States. Yet the move is but one in a string of expensive policies that have sought to slow migration from Central America in recent years. The military presence is no likelier than the billions of dollars

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