November 19, 2018
On October 12th, a mighty group of 7,000 asylum seekers fled San Pedro Sula, Honduras, leaving behind gang violence, drought, unemployment and poverty. People from all over Central America, from Nicaragua to El Salvador to Guatemala, scrambled to grab as many belongings as they could carry and left their homes, their lives, and their country behind.
News of the caravan spread through Honduras in early October, gaining support from all over Central America in only a few days. Thousands of people grouped together and set off on a long journey north, up to Mexico and the United States. The group of asylum seekers trudged through Central America and Mexico in the smoldering heat, traveling up to 20 miles per day, some walking on foot, some hopping on trucks or buses. After nearly a month of traveling, the front of the caravan has reached the Mexico-US border, arriving at varying locations. A large portion of the caravan is near California’s San Ysidro border crossing, which was temporarily shut down because of the huge number of asylum seekers. However, even with the increase of border security and tensions rising in Mexico between citizens and migrants, why did the news suddenly begin to slow down?
Just a few weeks before the midterms, news outlets seemed to be booming with stories and controversies about the caravan, but following the midterms, the story had almost died out. Many people around the country are placing the blame on the midterm elections for the increased news coverage of the caravan. Citizens have been calling it a “political stunt,” a mad dash to try and gain votes in swing states. With rumors of contagious illnesses being spread across the border, and violent criminals on their way to “invade our country,” a huge storm of fear and rage started to grow, especially in Southern states closer to the border.
After news of the “blue wave” of Democrats, Republicans seemed to feel like they needed to gain leverage over the public. Donald Trump even tweeted about the caravan, stating, “The Caravans are made up of some very tough fighters and people. Fought back hard and viciously against Mexico at Northern Border before breaking through. Mexican soldiers hurt, were unable, or unwilling to stop Caravan. Should stop them before they reach our Border, but won’t!” However, with the midterms done and the news of the caravan slowly declining, the story is only beginning.
Trump sent 5,200 troops to the Arizona border and ordered barricades to be built, preparing for thousands of migrants to arrive there soon. The problem arose when they found out the caravan is not headed to Arizona at all. A large chunk of the asylum seekers have made it to the border near California, staying in shelters and filling out paperwork to try and enter the USA. While there is lots of tension between Mexican officials/protesters and the migrants, after the group pushed through the tear gas and police blockades, overwhelming support came from local citizens. People were handing out food, treating the ill, playing music, and even offering to let them sleep in their homes and businesses.
However, even with all the support from locals, the congestion along the US-Mexico border is expected to last for months, since the US’s immigration policy is so tight. With enemies and friends on both sides of the border, this story is far from over.