By Mackenzie Pittman
With midterms happening Tuesday, November 6, you probably heard hundreds of stories and claims made by candidates and politicians alike attempting to bolster support for the election. One such story, repeatedly mentioned by President Trump, was the migrant caravan moving from Central America. But what is the caravan? And why does it matter?
On October 12, a group of 160 Hondurans, starting in the city of San Pedro Sula, began a journey to travel all the way to the U.S. with the intention of crossing the border. Honduras is a country riddled with unemployment issues, gang violence, drug wars, corruption, and high murder rates. These are the factors that prompted many Hondurans to join the caravan and risk the trek to the U.S., with the hope of a better and safer life for themselves and their children. At its height, the caravan totaled 7,000 migrants on October 22. However, by October 30, according to BBC news, the caravan had dropped to 3,500. And by November 7, the group reached Mexico City and decided to rest for four days in order to rally energy for the last leg of the trek to the border. Despite the fact that 5,600 U.S. troops are waiting at the southern U.S. border on Trump’s order ready to meet the caravan, the migrants have plowed on, ready to risk everything for the hope of a better life.
Still, the question is, what do these people plan on doing once they reach the U.S? According to Donald Trump, the caravan, filled with “gang members” and “bad people” “…will not be admitted into the United States unless [they] go through the legal process,” implying that the migrants are attempting to enter the U.S. illegally. This, however, is not the case. Many of the migrants are seeking asylum, a 100% legal process. If an asylum seeker is fleeing serious fear of violence or persecution in their home country, their claims will be judged in a hearing that will determine their admission into the U.S. However, according the now-former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, in the past, the “credible fear” asylum rule had been exploited. To counter this abuse, Trump signed a proclamation tightening the policies of the asylum law.
Ultimately, Trump’s frequent mention of the caravan was an attempt to garner support for Republican candidates running in the election. Decreasing illegal immigration was a main platform for Trump during his presidential campaign and his views still resonate with many Republicans.