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Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke October 26, 2018

No, Trump didn't sign orders for the 82nd Airborne Division

Sometimes a hoax can morph into something of reality. As a large caravan of migrants marches for the United States, we have seen our share of unfounded claims about the events.

In one Facebook post on Oct. 22, a user announced that "minutes ago, prior to taking the stage in Houston, TX: President Donald Trump signed DEPLOYMENT ORDERS for the 82nd Airborne Division of the United States Army, instructing them to deploy from Ft. Bragg, NC, to the U.S. southern border at Mexico."

This particular story is a hoax. But it turns out, Trump has decided to send some troops to the border. More on that in a second.

The poster went on to say that 1st Armored Division of the Army stationed in Ft. Campbell, Kentucky, was given 72-hour ready-standby orders to start shipping armored vehicles to the border and that "covert intelligence" had confirmed the caravan had grown to more than 10,000. An additional 40,000 Mexicans were staging to join them in northern Mexico.

"The OPEN PLAN THEY ARE IMPLEMENTING is for more than 50,000 of these so-called ‘migrants’ to physically storm the U.S. border to gain entry into our country," according to the post. "Our President Trump is not going to allow that. Article 4, Section 4 of the US Constitution REQUIRES the federal government to protect each of the states from invasion. The ‘migrant caravan’ is now classified as ‘an invasion force’ against which the US government will take action."

This story was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

Here’s what really did happen: Trump was in Houston; he spoke at a "Make America Great Again" rally in support of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who is up for re-election. And a few days before the rally, the president threatened to deploy the military to shut down the border to stop the migrants march north.

"I must, in the strongest terms, ask Mexico to stop this onslaught," Trump tweeted, "and if unable to do so I will call up the U.S. Military and CLOSE OUR SOUTHERN BORDER!"

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On Oct. 22, Trump told a USA Today reporter that he would send as many troops as necessary to block the caravan. He called their trek "an assault on our country," according to the newspaper.

But there’s no evidence that Trump deployed the 82nd Airborne or that troops in Kentucky were put on notice. While we were writing this fact-check, credible reports did surface that the president is preparing to send to the border at least 800 U.S. Army troops, including engineers to help construct tents and fencing, doctors for medical support and "potentially some personnel to operate drones along the border," the New York Times reported.  

Still, none of what was said about deploying specific troops to respond to an "invasion," as the Facebook post described, has been reported by legitimate media.

Next, the migrant caravan was growing. It’s the largest caravan of it’s kind in recent years, according to The Washington Post, which put the number of migrants at "more than 5,000." On Oct. 22, the United Nations estimated that about 7,200 people are currently walking north. One of the caravan’s organizers told CNN that 7,500 people are now participating, according to the news organization.

Wired called a number listed for an anti-immigration militia on a similar post. "The militia member who answered said that the 42,000 number was bogus, and that government officials have told the group that the caravan consists of around 7,000 people," the magazine said.

One newspaper, El Universal in Mexico, reported on Oct. 22 that more than 14,000 Hondurans were at the Mexico-Guatemala border. The paper attributed the figure to municipal authorities, a regional diocese and the National Migration Institute. There doesn’t appear to be evidence that the group will merge with 40,000 Mexicans, though.

Our ruling

Elements of this Facebook post contain granules of factual information: The caravan is large and has been growing, though size estimates vary and there are now reports that weary walkers are turning back. Trump has also threatened to deploy troops to the border. Reports indicate he may send about 800 troops there to offer support.

But Trump has not signed deployment orders for the 82nd Airborne Division, as this post specifically claims. We rate this statement False.  

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No, Trump didn't sign orders for the 82nd Airborne Division

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