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Migrant Caravan and Migration in Central America
By admin April 4, 2018

Source: Washington Post (https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/the-caravan-of-migrants-thats-alarmed-president-trump-has-now-stalled/2018/04/03/534b01c2-36aa-11e8-af3c-2123715f78df_story.html?utm_term=.0968a35197d9)

In these past few days, the issue of border security has gained relevance in the news cycle in the United States. Primarily, because of the US President tweeting about his policy proposal to mobilize US troops to the US Southern Border until a border wall is built. The justification for this policy proposal, according to the US President, is the supposedly incoming migrant caravan advancing through Mexico towards the United States. Both the migrant caravan and the policy proposal have been significantly polemic in the news cycle, but each are issues far more complicated than the way they have been described.

In regard to the migrant caravan, it is important to outline the nature of the movement and the overall objective. This migrant caravan is not the typical example of migration from Central America to the United States. The caravan is part of an annual event organized by a group called “Pueblo Sin Fronteras” (People Without Borders), which aims to raise awareness of the conditions of Central American migrants. Spokesmen of the group have mentioned that the expectation of the movement was never for migrants to successfully reach the United States and gain immigration status. In fact, those migrants who make it to the United States rarely achieve asylum status. Moreover, the caravan is comprised of over 1,000 migrants from Honduras, which are moving in a group in order to escape from the rough conditions in Honduras after the latest elections.

Another aspect of the caravan is that Central American migration is rarely organized within these parameters, and Mexico has been very active in managing the movement. The organization of the movement has permitted Mexico to manage many migrant cases in recent weeks. In fact, 400 migrants participating in the caravan have already been deported in Mexico. This is part of a greater trend for migrants from Honduras. In the United States, more than 83 percent of cases of asylum seekers from Honduras receive deportation orders. In Mexico, 5,000 Hondurans were deported in February 2018. Overall, Mexico deported 76,433 Central Americans in 2017, showing the constant efforts of the Mexican government in controlling migration in the region.

The migrant caravan was stopped at a soccer field in Oaxaca, Mexico, while the US President criticized the Mexican government and proposed using US aid as a bargaining chip to call Central American governments to do more on migration. Moreover, the President called for US troops to be mobilized to the Southern Border to monitor the expected migration movement. This expected inflow of migrants at the US Southern Border cannot respond to recent data. Between 2016 and 2017, US Southern Border authorities found that there was a 26 percent decline in the number of people detained or stopped at the border.

Nevertheless, the movement of troops is not a new proposal. In 2010, former President Obama sent 1,200 National Guard troops to the US Southern Border to assist Border Patrol and immigration officials because of concerns in drug trafficking. Moreover, in 2014 former Texas Governor Perry also considered dispatching as many as 1,000 National Guard troops to the US Southern Border to cope with the influx of migrant children from Central America. The novelty of the US President’s proposal is the possibility to condition US aid to Central America based on their migration effort. In 2016, the US directed US$127.5 million in aid to Honduras, and the President raised the possibility of removing this aid if Honduras continued “failing” in controlling migrant caravans.

The reality is that while the caravan and the President’s proposal have captured the current attention of the news cycle, they are not representative of the nature of the Central American migration problem and they are not unprecedented. Central American migration is a difficult and usually inhumane process that affect the region as much as it affects the United States. The caravan might have achieved its main effect, which was raising awareness, but the debate surrounding it is not representative of the magnitude of the problem.

For More See

Migrant caravan heading to U.S. border puts Mexico in tough spot with Trump

Trump says he’ll send military to guard U.S.-Mexico border, threatens foreign aid to Honduras

Trump threatens Honduras’ foreign aid over migrant caravan
Migrant caravan, raising concerns in US, halts in Mexico

Organizers of US-bound immigrant caravan accuse Trump of ‘bullying,’ ‘threats of mass violence’

The caravan of migrants that’s alarmed President Trump stalls at a soccer field


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