Caravan of migrants from Central America headed to the US
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Migrants from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala are caravanning to the US to seek asylum as they flee from violence and unemployment in their own countries. According to BBC, there are about 7,000 Central American migrants in route to the US border, and about 3,500 quickly approaching as some have decided to stay in Mexico at the offer of asylum. BBC reports that by law, asylum-seeking claims must be heard whether migrants legally or illegally cross the border. However, “economic migrants”—or those seeking a better quality life—are not considered refugees and will not have the same protections at hearings.
In the midst of mid-term election season, President Trump is reportedly sending more than 5,000 military troops to the Mexican border in response to the caravan. According to New York Times, many feel that Trump is using military enforcement for political gain as it is uncommon to use active-duty military in these situations. One of his main campaign pledges when running for president was to control illegal immigration, making Trump’s actions on this event pivotal for some voters. While the political timing of this event is interesting in regards to the election in just a few days, BBC reports that “both sides of the US political divide have been accused of using the migrants for electoral gain.”
Aside from sending troops to the border, Trump plans to hold tent cities for those seeking asylum. In an interview with Fox News, Trump said, “We are not going to build structures and spend all of this, hundreds of millions of dollars,” he said. “We are going to have tents. They are going to be very nice, and if they don’t get asylum, they get out.”
In the same interview, Trump labeled the caravan as an invasion and said that the migrants are wasting their time, they’re only traveling to be stopped by US troops. While border patrol and security believe the caravan number to dwindle in the coming weeks, the New York Times reports that there is word of new groups forming along the way and joining the migration North. Border patrol and security are prepared for the arrival of a large group and will not let people enter the United States “in an unsafe or unlawful manner” (New York Times). According to BBC, dehydration, traffickers, and gang violence are threats to travelers, though they feel safer traveling as a large group. Trump has also expressed concerned over gang members and their possible entrance into the US, particularly.
The migrant caravan approaches the US border as American cast their votes in the midterm elections. It remains to be seen if the President will follow throught on his remarks.