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On migrants, President Trump plays the fear card

Honduran migrants take part in a new caravan

Honduran migrants take part in a new caravan heading to the United States with Honduran and Guatemalan national flags in Quezaltepeque, Chiquimula, Guatemala, Monday. Credit: AFP/Getty Images / ORLANDO ESTRADA

President Donald Trump has graced the nation with mistruth after mistruth in less than two years in office, but this week featured a whole platter of big whoppers.

The lies centered around the “caravan” of would-be immigrants that began in Honduras. The poverty-stricken travelers, some of whom hardly have clothes and supplies for the journey, are making their way from Central America to the U.S. Southern border.

Are there “unknown Middle Easterners” mixed in, as the commander in chief claims? He now says, “There’s no proof of anything.”

Did Democrats pay for the caravan? No.

Are California residents “rioting” because they oppose protections for immigrants here illegally? They aren’t.

So why is Trump resorting to lies?

All you need to know is this rallying cry from one of his caravan tweets from Monday: “Remember the Midterms!”

Again, Trump is trying to rile up voters for political gain, with key elections just two weeks away. He is doing so by appealing to the basest of political instincts, spreading fear of a racial “other.” It might be the oldest and truest play in Trump’s book, dating to his disgraceful newspaper ad in 1989 calling for the death penalty for the Central Park Five — teenagers accused of rape who were later exonerated.

But now his divisiveness and lies have their widest audience yet, and Trump leads a culture of fact-free discourse on social media. Witness the fake photos of those California “riots” making the rounds; or see Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, describing the caravan as an “invasion” on Facebook and posting a picture of a bloodied Mexican law enforcement official. Except the picture was taken years ago and has nothing to do with the caravan.

Are there real problems with the American immigration system? Certainly. Should everyone arriving at our border be carefully screened? Yes. There are few good or easy answers for how to handle that. But stirring fear isn’t the answer, and neither is lying. — The editorial board