President Trump defended his characterization of migrant caravans from Central America as an “invasion” during a heated press conference following the midterm elections Wednesday.
Trump focused a lot of attention on the caravans in the weeks leading up to midterms, repeating unsubstantiated claims that many criminals and “unknown Middle Easterners” were among the mostly Honduran migrants, many of them children and families, heading for the U.S. border where they plan to apply for asylum. Last week, Trump ordered the deployment of thousands of active-duty troops to the southwest border to defend against what he depicted as an imminent threat to the United States by the caravan’s members, the bulk of whom were resting in Mexico City, more than 570 miles from the closest U.S. port of entry, as of Election Day.
At the White House Wednesday, CNN’s Jim Acosta pressed the president on his comments about the caravans.
“It was not an invasion,” Acosta said, asking, “Why did you characterize it as such?”
“Because I consider it an invasion,” Trump replied.
Acosta continued, questioning whether Trump thought that he’d “demonized immigrants” during the election, citing a controversial final campaign ad that showed “migrants climbing over walls,” along with video footage of an undocumented immigrant convicted of murdering two police officers in 2014. The ad, which apparently sought to conflate members of the migrant caravan with violent criminals, was described racist and pulled from several networks, including Fox News.
Trump essentially dismissed the question, stating that the people shown in the ad “weren’t actors.”
“They didn’t come from Hollywood,” Trump said, cutting off Acosta when he tried to follow up.
Asked later on whether he regretted the controversial caravan ad, Trump replied, “No, I’m surprised you would ask me that question. I do not.”
The president declined to answer questions about whether he plans to follow through on a proposal he made last week to end birthright citizenship via executive order, a move many experts agreed would be legally untenable. He said keeping criminals out of the country was a popular policy, especially with women, boasting about deporting “thousands” of MS-13 gang members. Exit polling from the 2018 midterms shows white women in particular have actually shifted their support toward Democrats two years after backing Trump by 53 percent.
Read more from Yahoo News: