This past weekend, President Donald Trump tweeted that a “caravan” of immigrants was approaching the U.S.-Mexico border, intent on committing crimes and selling drugs. President Trump also threatened to scuttle the NAFTA treaty with Mexico if it did not secure its border, and cut off foreign aid to Honduras for not doing the same. So, is there really a caravan of migrants on the verge of invading the United States, bent on sowing mayhem?
The simple answer is no. Although there is a “caravan” of sorts, it is a yearly event by an organization known as “Pueblo Sin Fronteras,” or People Without Borders, which draws attention to the perilous journey that (mostly) Central American immigrants must endure in order to flee the unstable and violent environments in their native countries. The caravan typically ends in Mexico City in southern Mexico, about 600 miles from the U.S border in Brownsville, TX.
Many of the migrants are trying to stay in Mexico. Mayra Zepeda, 38, of Honduras, is trying to obtain a humanitarian Mexican residency visa, a precursor to applying for asylum in Mexico. If successful, Marya and her husband hope to find better paying jobs and, “…aren’t planning to try to cross into the U.S. The couple left Honduras in December after incumbent President Juan Orlando Hernandez was declared the winner of a contested election. The factory where she made T-shirts for export closed due to the weeks of instability that followed the election.”
Some of the migrants will continue on their own to the border. They will attempt to make qualifying claims for asylum, due to fears of political persecution and deadly violence back home. One of these migrants is Maria Elena Colindres Ortega, 43, a Honduran Congresswoman until this past January, who, “joined the caravan to eventually apply for political asylum in the United States. More than 20 people were killed in post-election protests and Honduras has long been dangerous for activists.”
This is a far cry from the caravan’s imminent commission of crime and drug-related activities as portrayed by the President’s tweets this past weekend. And, in light of the false notion that this caravan is a forewarning of future increased border crossings, the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol recently reported that border crossing apprehensions have decreased by 26%, “In Fiscal Year (FY) 2017, USBP apprehended 303,916 individuals along our Southwest Border, compared to 408,870 in FY16.”
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