Perspectives: Does the Honduran migrant caravan pose a threat to the US?


by Srinath Somasundaram and Eric Fang

Caravan may cause immigration issues

Contrary to the political rhetoric of many prominent right-wing politicians, the caravan does not pose an immediate threat to the U.S. However, the precedent the caravan sets for large numbers of migrants attempting to enter the United States can potentially pose a threat to asylum processing centers along the southern border. If a portion of the caravan, although it would certainly be a small minority, obtains asylum and gains entrance to the United States, more and more impoverished individuals living in third world countries throughout Central and South America would be incentivized to make the perilous trek north. The increasingly common caravans that each contain thousands of migrants would create longer and longer wait lines in processing centers across the southern border, straining governmental resources.

Future caravans will undoubtedly escalate the tensions on both sides of the nation’s southern border.”

In addition to backing up immigration processing centers, migrants who are not granted asylum may attempt to enter the country illegally out of desperation. An example would be when hundreds of migrants rushed the border near the San Ysidro point of entry last Sunday, breaking down some barriers and throwing a few projectiles at border security agents. The agents responded by shooting tear gas into the group that contained numerous women and children. Future caravans will escalate the tensions on both sides of the nation’s southern border. The recent anti-migrant protests in the Mexican city of Tijuana is another example of civil unrest stemming from Central American caravans. The situation has worsened to the point that the mayor of Tijuana declared a humanitarian crisis and asked the United Nations for aid.

Although people’s intentions of finding an improved home, a safer community and a better job are respectable, the many issues that arise prior to their possible entrance into the U.S. could be problematic for both the U.S. and Mexico.


Caravan poses no threat to country of immigrants

No, the Honduran migrant caravan does not pose any danger to the U.S. When inspecting the issue, it’s important to remember that those in the caravan are immigrants, not criminals nor soldiers.

President Trump often conflates the two, calling the caravan an “invasion” and an “assault on our country.” He has even directed the army to support the border, though they are not allowed to act as a police force by law. Prior to the midterms, Nancy Pelosi said, “Clearly, Republicans will do absolutely anything to divert attention away from their votes to take away Americans’ health care.” She, herself, was diverting attention away from a serious immigration topic in an effort to continue the Democratic momentum into the midterms.

Both these approaches pandered to xenophobia in order to gain a political advantage, and in doing so, they have portrayed the caravan as an immigration crisis that our country faces. In reality, the only immigration crisis is the mindset around the topic. The very thing that makes America great is its immigrants; a country created by those fleeing persecution must be more understanding when foreigners are in search of a better life.

The caravan of migrants in recent days has caused a sharp escalation of tension around the southern border. While the first groups of people that arrived were being processed as asylum seekers, American authorities threw tear gas at a group of unarmed migrants trying to enter the country illegally in an effort to protest a slow asylum process. Furthermore, president Trump has threatened to close the southern border. All this response begs the question of why. Why are the country and its elected official so scared of potential immigrants?

There are laws already in place for the protection of both Americans and immigrants. The caravan is only a crisis or a threat if immigration itself is a danger to our country, and that is simply untrue.”

Immigrants are extremely important and valuable contributing members of society. According to a study published by the Cato Institute in 2018, there were 56 percent and 85 percent fewer criminal convictions in the state of Texas for undocumented immigrants and legal immigrants, respectively, when compared to native-born Americans. Additionally, according to a study published in the journal Criminology, from 1990 to 2014, states that had larger portions of undocumented immigrants tended to have lower violent crime rates. So to classify all immigrants as criminals is not only sweeping racist generalization, but also a blatantly false idea. We are not even in an illegal immigration crisis as the number of unauthorized immigrants each year has been continuously and steadily dropping in the past decade.

These desperate migrants do not want to enter the country because we have lax border security or because they seek to destroy us. They want a better life and an escape from the violence and poverty in their home countries just like our ancestors. So rather than punishing these people and their respective home countries, our government must be more compassionate and open allowing them to find a better home while also providing enough aid to central American countries in order to rid their people of a necessity to leave. 

There are laws already in place for the protection of both Americans and immigrants. The caravan is only a crisis or a threat if immigration itself is a danger to our country, and that is simply untrue.

This piece was originally published in the pages of The Winged Post on December 6, 2018.