Experts: Migrant Caravan Could Be ‘a Decision-Making Issue’ During Mid-Term Elections

caravan
FILE: AP Photo/Oliver de Ros
EDWIN MORA

WASHINGTON, DC – The thousands-strong migrant caravan still growing as it marches towards the United States’ southern border could generate a political force inside the U.S. that will impact the upcoming congressional elections, experts said Tuesday at an event hosted by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI).

Speaking during a panel discussion on foreign policy and the 2018 midterm elections hosted by AEI, Myra Miller, the co-founder of the research firm Winston Group, said:

What’s happening with this caravan, I think It’s something that really could be, potentially, a decision-making issue in the next two weeks … With these undecided voters who are still in the process of making up their minds, what’s happening with that could play a role in influencing how they make a decision in the next two weeks.

Panel participant Rick Dearborn, a partner at the strategic advisory firm the Cyprus Group that counsels clients on public policy risk and opportunity, agreed with Miller, noting that the caravan could create a political force that may change the outcome of the election.

Echoing U.S. President Donald Trump, who believes criminals may have infiltrated the caravan, Dearborn noted:

I do think that there is a terrorism element … when you talk about this caravan coming up. You’re already seeing some of this being sprinkled into the rhetoric being used by candidates about the concern of 7 to 10,000 people — it makes it lot easier for all kinds of nefarious folks to get into the country and how do you prevent that and what’s going to happen when they do reach the border and I do think, I agree with Myra, that could be a decisional event that surely does turn the election.

Tom Davis, a former Republican lawmaker from Virginia who participated in the panel discussion, pointed out that the caravan will likely push swing voters to the polls.

He said:

If you took the Republican base you see some xenophobia and on the Democratic base xenophilia and there’s a lot of area in between that where you have a lot of swing voters where this is the issue being presented to them with this caravan coming up in the last couple of weeks and that becomes an issue that starts moving them because of the accent is getting in the last two weeks of the campaign.

The former lawmakers indicated that Democrats will have to “defend 4,000, 10,000 however many people coming into the United States and not caring what the rules are and I think that probably, the middle is not comfortable with that and so I think it rebounds to the Republican’s advantage in the closing days.”

Dearborn agreed that the caravan politics would likely benefit Republicans, given that it is easier to condemn that it is to defend.

He said:

[It is] much easier for the Republicans to talk about it in terms of border security. Very difficult for the other side to kind of defend or at least come up with some way of dealing with it other than being a border security issue. It’s humanitarian of course, but you have 7,000 people getting ready to flood right at our southern border, and that is going to create a border security scenario. So I think it does become much more of a political item that can be weaponized by a lot of candidates and it will be a very tough thing to defend.

President Trump has vowed to cut or substantially reduce foreign aid to Central American countries over the estimated 7,000-strong migrant caravan heading towards the southern border.

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