News Brief: Migrant Caravan Approaches United States Border
October 24, 2018
Over the last week, major news outlets across the United States (US) have focused on a new immigration crisis facing the nation. A caravan containing upwards of 7,000 migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers travels towards the southern US border. With midterm elections looming, it appears that the Trump administration plans to utilize this event to stoke racism, fear, and xenophobia within the American public.
On Monday, October 22, 2018, President Trump tweeted that the caravan contained “unknown Middle Easterners” who pose terroristic threats to the US. Such claims by Trump and Republicans appear to have heightened as November 6 approaches. According to the The New York Times, this may be an attempt to raise “cultural anxiety” amongst white voters and send supporters to the polls.
“[The caravan] is an assault on our country and in that caravan you have some very bad people and we can’t let that happen to our country,” Trump stated at a Houston rally on October 22. In addition to these baseless claims, the president hinted that democrats were to blame.
Conversely, former vice president Joe Biden stated, “[Trump’s] making it sound like they’re breaking through the border.” This overplaying of the caravan’s nearness and significance, according to Biden, is simply “hysteria.”
With so much vitriol infiltrating US news and politics regarding the caravan, what do we really know? Who are the people approaching the US border en masse?
What facts do we know about the migrant caravan?
The caravan consists of roughly 7,000 migrants from Central America. Originating in Honduras, the caravan has grown in number as people joined neighboring countries as foot travelers crossed into Mexico. Most migrants in the caravan hail from Honduras, Guatemala, or El Salvador.
This caravan is much larger than the previous caravan that arrived in San Diego via Tijuana earlier in 2018. That group consisted of 1,200 migrants, whittling down to around 200 who actually reached the southern Californian border.
According to The New York Times, October’s caravan is the largest migrant caravan on record. Previously, caravans normally numbered in the hundreds, practicing a “safety in numbers” ideology. These groups often went unnoticed as they crossed the US border. But as enforcement increases in 2018, the journey has become more perilous. Thus, more and more people to seek caravans.
An article from TIME posited that the swelling of caravans is a response to stricter border enforcement along the Mexican and US borders. Such policies make it more difficult and dangerous to travel on foot, especially for individuals or small groups.
Who is in the caravan?
The caravan reportedly began with 160 people in Honduras, and has grown as it journeys north. Most within the caravan are Central Americans from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala. It is reasonable to believe that most people in the caravan are migrants, refugees, or asylum seekers hoping to find a better life away from violence, political corruption, economic distress, and fear.
The president and vice president have asserted without evidence that the migrant caravan hides middle eastern terrorists. These baseless claims were refuted by a counterterrorism official, who told CNN that there was “no evidence” that terrorists such as ISIS were attempting to “infiltrate the southern US border.”
When will it arrive?
As of Tuesday, October 23, 2018, CNBC estimated that the caravan was still approximately 1,100 miles away from the closest border crossing in McAllen, Texas. The distance nearly doubles if the migrants head for the border crossing of the previous caravan in San Diego, California. Because they are traveling on foot, it is unfeasible to expect the migrants to arrive quickly.
It is likely many will seek asylum in Mexico, or will otherwise be apprehended. In fact, Mexican officials have reported that over 1,000 migrants have already appealed for asylum with government authorities. And it is likely that that number will grow in the coming days.
Questions? Talk to an immigration lawyer
The harsh and hate-filled rhetoric of many politicians can leave US immigrants, migrants, and asylum seekers feeling hopeless. An experienced immigration attorney can quell your fears and help you plan for the future. Located in Austin, Texas, the attorneys at Nanthaveth & Associates are skilled in all aspects of immigration law. Contact an expert immigration attorney today to schedule a free consultation.