Migrant Caravan

Miguel Garcia

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In recent months, the mountainous, arid terrain of the unforgiving deserts just south of the Rio Grande have been quite eventful. The caravan has been applauded for their bravery in taking their journey but also criticized for their more than questionable actions. Most notably, the tear gassing of a group of migrants at the US-Mexico Border at Tijuana, Mexico has captured national attention.

Spanning back to 2011, tens of thousands of people from the Central American countries of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras have sought refuge in neighboring countries in stark numbers. According to the UNHCR (the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees), “From 2011 to 2016, the number of people from the Northern Triangle who have sought refuge in surrounding countries has increased by 2,249%”

These numbers are a result of the homicide crisis that Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras (collectively known as the “Northern Triangle of Central America”) are facing. The urban slums home to working Central Americans just years ago are now deemed as some of the most dangerous places on the planet. This correlates with the skyrocketing of organized crimes by local gangs called “maras”.

In mid-October of this year, a migrant caravan centered in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, began their journey in refuge from their home countries, where they faced violence, poverty, and political repression. On their northbound path, they amassed as much media coverage as they did members, as their numbers escalated from 160 to well over 2,000-5,000.

However, this was not without a response from the executive branch, as well as the presidents of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras urging the migrants to turn back.

Well, now they’re here. These asylum seekers, presumed to be mostly consisting of whole families and unoccupied children, carrying nothing but their most important belongings, are here in hope to seek freedom; in other words, the American dream.

The strife and toil of these migrants simply do not overturn constitutional immigration policy. Much less so when groups of these asylum seekers are hurling stones over the border fences, deliberately attempting to harm members of the US Border Patrol. Much less so when groups of hundreds of asylum seekers take the questionable risk to force open the fence.

Just as questionable is the US’s response to these attacks. American military troops tear gassing not only those attempting to enter forcefully and throwing rocks, but indirectly gassing mothers and children as the breeze carries this lachrymator agent. Even though some may argue that the tear gassing of certain individuals breaking the law is justified, it is without a doubt careless to assume that the tear gas wouldn’t spread to people seeking asylum peacefully.

The bottom line is, the behavior exhibited by certain individuals in the caravan is in no way justifiable or worthy of free entry into a country with some of the most stringent immigration policies. Asylum can be achieved without throwing stones at border-occupying troops. It can also be achieved without attempting to forcefully enter the country; at that point, one is no longer seeking asylum, they are committing a crime.

It is as simple as appealing to the Border Control Station and asking for asylum documentation. Without a doubt, the mothers and children hoping to peacefully acquire these deserve it. As nail-biting and worrisome a process as it is, it is worth waiting for to guarantee safe entry.

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