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Trump admits his 'Middle Easterners' caravan claim was bogus

Central American migrants make their way to the US border with Mexico [AP]

Date of publication: 24 October, 2018

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The American leader conceded "there's no proof of anything" after earlier claiming "unknown Middle Easterners" had joined a caravan of Central American migrants.
President Donald Trump attempted to defend his claim that "unknown Middle Easterners" were part of the caravan walking to the United States.

Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office on Tuesday, Trump admitted "there's no proof of anything". "They could very well be," he added. "I have very good information."

Thousands of Honduran migrants are walking through Mexican territory to reach the US, fleeing poverty and insecurity in their country. More than 7,000 people have now joined the caravan, according to the United Nations, with the president calling the surge an "assault on our country".

The American leader has been accused of fear-mongering to appeal to his base, after he claimed in a tweet on Monday: "Criminals and unknown Middle Easterners are mixed" into the migrant caravan moving toward the United States. He called this a "national emergy" (sic).

There have been no reports from government agencies or US media covering the march to suggest there are "Middle Easterners" in the caravan.

Trump told reporters that the US Border Patrol has "intercepted many people from the Middle East" over the course of the year.

"I also think that over a course of a period of time you (will) have (Middle Eastern individuals in the caravan), or they don't necessarily have to be in that group. 

"They don't necessarily have to be in that group," Trump also said on Tuesday. "But certainly you have people coming up through the southern border, from the Middle East and other places that are not appropriate for our country. And I'm not letting them in."

When asked by a reporter if he was trying to stoke fear and cause alarm to fire up his base, Trump replied: "I'm very nonpolitical person. And that's why I got elected president."

According to a report by The New York Times, more than 300,000 people have been held at the southern border in the last financial year and only 61 of those - 0.02 percent - were from countries the State Department deems the Middle East or Near East. 

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