As a nation known for being the melting pot or the salad bowl that prides itself on being made up of immigrants, the general antiimmigrant stance that is so popular in the United States seems highly hypocritical. While we preach about how brave our ancestors were for immigrating to an unknown land, we condemn others for doing the same thing.
Currently, thousands of migrants from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala are pressing on in their trek toward U.S. border. The caravan began the journey on Oct. 12, when just over one hundred migrants who had been planning their journey for over a month met at a bus terminal to begin traveling to escape violence, poverty and persecution in their home countries.
Historically, migrant caravans are typically much smaller, numbering only a few hundred; but when a former politician posted about this caravan on Facebook, the news quickly spread and new members joined rapidly.
Since migrants are highly vulnerable to getting kidnapped or trafficked trying to make the journey to the U.S. border, traveling in a large group like this one provides numerous safety advantages.
At its height, the migrant caravan grew to about 5,000 people, but has since fractured into a few smaller groups as some lag behind, settle in Mexico or seek alternate transportation such as hitchhiking.
Along the way, members of the caravan face dehydration, exhaustion, illness and injury along with a lack of food and shelter. It is unclear at this point in time how many people from the caravan will complete the journey to the U.S. border, as they are still over 600 miles away.
What happens when the caravan reaches the United States? Experts still are not sure. When they do arrive, they will meet 7,000 active duty U.S. troops and 2,000 more National Guard personnel accompanying the thousands of border patrol agents and customs officers at the border.
The Trump administration has made it clear that it does not want the migrant caravan crossing over into the United States since such a large influx of migrants at one time can quickly become a national security issue. Trump stated that up to 15,000 troops could be sent to the U.S.-Mexico border, which is more than the number of troops stationed in Afghanistan. Trump also made threats to suspend all aid to these Central American countries unless they stop the outflow of their citizens into the U.S.
According to international law, the U.S. is required to hear claims of asylum from migrants who are fleeing violence. For those fleeing serious persecution, they would be considered refugees.
However, for those trying to escape poverty or obtain a better quality of life, they are not considered refugees so they do not get the same protections under international law as the other migrants.
As the caravan gets closer to the border, some fear that violence may break out if a large amount of the caravan tries to enter the U.S. by force. Of those stationed at the border, an operation ironically named “Faithful Patriot,” some units are indeed armed.
However, the 2,000 National Guard personnel are not supposed to make arrests or carry weapons and the active duty forces face restrictions from the Posse Comitatus Act that limits troops’ ability to carry out law enforcement duties on U.S. soil.