Migrant caravan deserves hospitality and asylum

John Kibler

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By John Kibler

Approximately 3,500 Central Americans are trekking through Mexico, aiming to find illusionary hospitality in America. Making public the desperate journey for freedom for undocumented immigrants, they have drawn a great deal of attention in the media and are being used as a political strategy on both sides of the spectrum.

The migrants disobey the legal immigration system because hardly anyone has made any sort of attempt to repair it, and at this point that may be impossible without a complete reformation. It has crumbled to pieces after a new influx of Central Americans fleeing to the U.S.

On Oct. 13 in San Pedro Sula, Honduras— previously known as the murder capital of the world— the caravan set off on their way down the Pan-American Highway to the US-Mexico border, aiming to cross illegally and become inhabitants of America. They travel in the day, usually by walking, sometimes hitching rides from drivers or public transportation. At night they sleep out in the streets or in a local park. The caravan numbers were previously up to about 7,000 on Oct. 22, according to a UN spokesperson; however, the hot and stormy conditions along with confrontations with criminal gangs proved to be too much for over 3,000, who retreated to wherever they called home.

About 1,500 migrants have left the caravan in Mexico and applied for asylum to the U.S. through the Mexican government. This is a slightly less aggressive solution to their issues, but the U.S. government has been hesitant to accepting asylum to seekers from Mexico as their legitimacy is questioned due to the number of undocumented Mexican immigrants living in the U.S.

Conditions in Honduras are problematic, to say the least. Citizens are constantly facing gang violence and corruption in the government, in the courts, and in the police forces.

“We can’t live in our own country anymore because there are no jobs,” said one migrant in a video published by BBC. “We come in search of the American Dream.”

President Trump and his administration have a long held rigidly conservative and unaccepting stance on immigration. There are many people from various agencies patrolling the borders, and more are being sent.. In addition, Trump has proposed deploying up to 15,000 military troops, which is over four times the size of the caravan. Judging by the fact that the migrants will have travelled well over 1,200 miles and have no home, they will not be willing to turn around. The administration has also proposed a new travel ban that would close the border completely.

Trump has repeatedly blamed Democrats for the country’s immigration issues, and with midterm elections approaching quickly he has not ceased to do so.

In addition, Trump has claimed that the caravan holds “unknown Middle Easterners.” There is no evidence or convincing material whatsoever (which even Trump admitted), and is merely a wild claim meant to manipulate Republicans and push them further to the right with feelings of anti-terrorism.

This is, however, an important point that was made. There is nothing stopping someone meaning to do harm upon the American people from marching across the border. The intention of saying that is not to raise fear toward this group of people, nor is it to raise fear toward those fleeing from the Middle-East; they are much like us in certain ways we tend to fail to recognize. The intention is to stress the importance of immigration reform.

The moral thing to do here is to let these people in. These people have sacrificed everything for a chance at the American Dream. Hopefully, as a student and someone who has taken the time to read this editorial, you do not confuse Trump’s proposed travel ban with a legitimate long-term solution.

I am not eager to discover what will happen when the caravan confronts the border control. The mere thought of it sickens me. Whether violence breaks out or not, it will surely be a defining moment in the grand debate over border control, as was when children were separated from their parents who were trying to enter the country. This is a complicated, multi-sided issue that deserves a complicated answer. I certainly do not have it; I do know, however, that the issue comes down to this at its core: America is in the midst of a border crisis and immediate immigration reform is beyond necessary. Politicians have talked about immigration reform for decades, but have been too scared of the politics to do anything about the lives we are turning away. We either need reform immediately, or we need to send extensive foreign aid to the countries to make their citizens happy. The latter sounds nightmarish to me as well as many others, but judging by the current state of Congress and the President’s intentions to use the situation for political gain, neither will happen in the near future.

If you’re an American, this is the greatest time to be alive in all of humanity, and if we continue to learn from ourselves as we have over the course of history, then conditions will continue to improve. The lower-class American in 2018 lives with luxuries the upper-class American 200 years ago could not imagine. Politics, though facing rough periods every once in a while, corrects and betters itself over time. In a third world country such as Honduras, it is not that simple. Human progress is slowed to a substantial extent. We say “America First” as if life gets better by disregarding the responsibility of tending to a world that we share with 194 other nations, then at our gates we turn away those hungry for freedom and call their journey an “invasion of our country.”

We are not who we say we are. We are no longer a welcoming oasis, as was the goal when Jefferson wrote the first word of the Declaration. We have turned our back on those who need America the most. We have turned our back on true American heritage.

This is an excerpt from a poem that sits at the foot of the Statue of Liberty, which used to represent our welcoming of outcasts and our offering of a rebirth of sorts— the time when America was “great.” Now, it is nothing more than an old chunk of copper.

 

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she

With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

-Emma Lazarus, The New Colossus

 

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Migrant caravan deserves hospitality and asylum