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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 13 November 2018

Trump harps on immigration in final campaign push

President stokes fears about caravan of Central Americans and praises barbed wire fencing

US President Donald Trump arrives for a rally at Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport in Montana. AFP
US President Donald Trump arrives for a rally at Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport in Montana. AFP

Donald Trump hammered home his anti-immigrant message in campaigning for Tuesday's midterm elections, telling voters over the weekend that the thousands of men, women and children marching through Mexico towards the US border were "bad people".

“The Democrats want to invite caravan after caravan of illegal aliens to flood into your communities,” the president told supporters in Montana on Saturday.

Migrants heading in a caravan to the US hitch a ride on a lorry in Mexico's Veracruz state on November 3, 2018. AFP
Migrants heading in a caravan to the US hitch a ride on a lorry in Mexico's Veracruz state on November 3, 2018. AFP

“These are bad people — as I say, bad hombres," Mr Trump said. "There are some bad hombres in that group. So they came out with a list of 300 really bad ones, really bad ones. They’re in there.”

He was referring to a Department of Homeland Security statement that more than 270 of the people in the caravans had criminal backgrounds, including gang membership, robbery and sexual assault.

Although the nearest of three groups of Central American migrants heading towards the US was still more than a 1,000 kilometres away on Sunday, Mr Trump last week ordered about 5,000 troops to the border and said the number could rise to 15,000.

The president also praised the fencing being put up along some sections of the border, saying "barbed wire used properly can be a beautiful sight". He later tweeted a call to vote Republican "to protect law-abiding American citizens".

Continued his punishing campaign schedule in the final days before the election, Mr Trump flew more than 3,000 kilometres from Montana to Florida to support candidates there including the state governor Rick Scott, who is standing for Senate.

Meanwhile, a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released on Sunday showed Mr Trump’s approval rating at 46 per cent, up from 45 per cent in October. But 40 per cent said their vote on Tuesday would be a signal of opposition to Mr Trump against 32 per cent who intended to vote to show support, Bloomberg reported.

Some 59 per cent of registered voters said they want a “great deal” or “quite a bit” of change in the country’s direction.

A Washington Post-ABC News poll released overnight put the president's approval at 40 per cent, up from 36 per cent in the same series in August. Both surveys showed Democrats with a lead in Congressional preference, but that gap has narrowed as voting day approaches.

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