Mexico—A migrant caravan comprised of more than seven thousand Central Americans is headed toward the U.S.-Mexico border.
Like a cascading snowball, the caravan has increased in size and visibility with every mile northward. It all began when around 150 Honduran migrants grouped to have better security for their trek north. As they hitched rides, their momentum and size increased. Hitherto, their trek has taken them through Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Mexico.
They are, however, still more than 1,000 miles from the nearest point of entry (McAllen, Texas). Interestingly, this is the second caravan of migrants in 2018. But the previous one was substantially smaller: initially comprised of 1,200 people, less than 200 managed to reach the American border. The reasons for the shrinkage were the trip’s hardship, as well as doubts about getting asylum from U.S. authorities. Thus, many chose to remain in Mexico. Although this could very well happen in the latest caravan, its momentum — which has been increasing rather than decreasing as they edge closer to their destination — suggests that U.S. border authorities will face a considerable number of asylum seekers.
Migrant caravans from Central America are not an uncommon occurrence. The promise of a better life in the U.S. is too powerful an incentive for many families to ignore. Poverty levels and low quality of life in the Central American countries are the main reason behind their decision to risk everything for a better future.
What’s more interesting about this caravan is the political background in the U.S. The midterm elections are approaching fast (11/6). Despite his vocal election promises for a Wall on the American-Mexican border, President Trump hasn’t delivered much on that front. The caravan, thus, becomes a plump opportunity to rekindle the Republican voters and show that immigration remains high on the president’s agenda.
For example, Trump took up arms and tweeted: “Sadly, it looks like Mexico’s Police and Military are unable to stop the Caravan heading to the Southern Border of the United States. Criminals and unknown Middle Easterners are mixed in. I have alerted Border Patrol and Military that this is a National Emergency. Must change laws!”
President Trump also threatened to slash foreign aid to the involved countries. He said that they if their governments can’t perform their duties and stop their people from illegally immigrating to the U.S., then financial assistance ought to be cut. In 2017, Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala received around $500 million for economic development, education, human rights, and democracy enhancement programs.
Cutting the aid, however, is bound to increase illegal immigration not decrease it. Foreign aid to underdeveloped or struggling countries intends to enhance the local governments and increase the populations’ prosperity, offering decreased incentive to migrate. Moreover, foreign aid falls under Congress’ authorities.
In response, a representative from the People Without Borders, a humanitarian aid organisation, accused the president of hijacking the caravan for political purposes.
We’ll update you as the caravan edges closer to the American border.