The Central American Migrant Caravan, Put Simply

By Campaign Agent Ethan Moxam

In recent weeks Donald Trump has drawn much attention to the Central American migrant caravan, currently passing through south Mexico, slowly making its way to the U.S. border. On his final few rallies before Tuesday’s midterm election, Trump warned of a migrant caravan invasion, consisting solely of “Democrat-sponsored migrants” bringing crime.

The migrant caravan that Trump warns of first began on the 12th of October, when a group of around 160 Hondurans set off from the town of San Pedro Sula in hopes of claiming asylum in Mexico or the United States. Former legislator Bartolo Fuentes is one of the earliest spokesman for the caravan. Fuentes claims that this exodus of people fleeing Honduras is a reflection of life under the Hernandez administration. 

By October 15th, the caravan had grown to an estimated 1,600 Hondurans amassing at the border of Guatemala. At first, Guatemalan officials attempted to close the Honduran-Guatemalan border to the caravan- after several hours however, the Guatemalan officials stood down. By the time the caravan reached the Guatemalan-Mexican border, it had reached an estimated 3,000 strong. Mexico has already begun processing members of the caravan for asylum. 

On October 24th, the Mexican government had stated they had already processed 1,743 applications. The process to apply for asylum in Mexico can be dangerous; Mexico has been accused of indiscriminate long-term detention of asylum seekers, and parts of Mexico are already unsafe for those who have fled violence. 

The United States has also enlisted Mexico to apprehend any migrants attempting to make their way to the US before they get to the border. In recent years 950,000 Central American asylum seekers have been deported from Mexico, leading to concerns from human rights groups due to reports of torture and disappearances by Mexican security forces. 

For this reason there are many who have chosen to make their way to the U.S border to ask for asylum. The caravan now is estimated to be 4,000 strong, most of these people are Hondurans and others hailing from the Northern Triangle of Central America (Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador)

The U.S-Mexico border crackdown which began in April was largely put in place in response to a migrant caravan travelling from Central America. This led to a crackdown in ‘zero tolerance’ prosecutions, and a slowdown in processing for asylum seekers attempting to enter the U.S. legally. These policies continue today, and due to the rise in migrant families seeking asylum, the Trump administration are also considering a revival in family separation.  

President Trump has responded further by signing a presidential proclamation which seeks to limit asylum claims only to those who applied for asylum at legal entry points; this circumvents current US law which dictates that individuals feeing violence/persecution must enter the country to apply for protected status. Trump has also threatened to deploy military troops to the border, warning that any migrants found to be violent on their way to the U.S.-Mexico border will be shot by the U.S. Military.

However, despite the threat of a radical military crackdown, many of the asylum seekers remained optimistic. When speaking to The Guardian, one member said “We think he’ll change his way of thinking and let us through”. This is reflective of the undying optimism many members of the caravan hold, as most are confident that the caravan will cross the U.S. border.

Sources and Further Reading

Image: Gage Skidmore @flickr

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