Thousands of U.S. troops to stop an "invasion" of migrants. Tent cities for asylum seekers. An end to the Constitution's guarantee of birthright citizenship.
With his eyes squarely on next Tuesday's elections, President Donald Trump is rushing out hardline immigration declarations, promises and actions as he tries to mobilize supporters to retain Republican control of Congress. His own campaign in 2016 concentrated on border fears, and that's his final-week focus in the midterm fight.
"This has nothing to do with elections," the president insists. But his timing is striking.
Trump says he will send more than 5,000 military troops to the Mexican border to help defend against caravans of Central American migrants who are on foot and still hundreds of miles away. Tent cities would not resolve the massive U.S. backlog of asylum seekers. And most legal scholars say it would take a new constitutional amendment to alter the current one granting citizenship to anyone born in America.
Still, Trump plunges ahead with daily alarms and proclamations about immigration in tweets, interviews and policy announcements in the days leading up to elections that Democrats hope will give them at least partial control of Congress.
Trump and many top aides have long seen the immigration issue as the most effective rallying cry for his base of supporters. The president had been expected to make an announcement about new actions at the border on Tuesday, but that was scrapped so he could travel instead to Pittsburgh, where 11 people were massacred in a synagogue during Sabbath services.
Between the shootings, the deadliest attack on Jews in U.S. history, and the mail bomb scare targeting Democrats and a media organization, the caravan of migrants slowly trudging north had faded from front pages and cable TV.
But with interviews on Fox and "Axios on HBO," Trump revived some of his hardest-line immigration ideas:
— An executive order to revoke the right to citizenship for babies born to non-U.S. citizens on American soil.
— And the prolonged detention of anyone coming across the U.S.-Mexico border, including those seeking asylum, in "tent cities" erected "all over the place."
The administration on Monday also announced plans to deploy 5,200 active duty troops — more than double the 2,000 who are in Syria fighting the Islamic State group — to the border to help stave off the caravans.
The main caravan, still in southern Mexico, was continuing to melt away — from the original 7,000 to about 4,000 — as a smaller group apparently hoped to join it.