THE CARAVAN: human tragedy or invasion?

A caravan of approximately 5,000 people seeking asylum due to conditions in their home countries, such as gang violence, is making its way to the United States. As they approach, the United States President has categorized this movement as an invasion of the United States.


WHO is this Caravan?

As we may all be aware by now, there is a group of approximately 5,000 people making their way to the United States. These people are coming for one single goal: to seek asylum or work in the United States.

Merriam-Webster defines “caravan” as “a company of travelers on a journey through desert or hostile regions.” The current and controversial Caravan that is making its way to the United States originated in Honduras. In a small town called San Pedro Sula to be exact. It is important to mention that San Pedro Sula has been referred to as the “murder capital of the world.” After much planning and organizing, the Caravan began its trip in the early hours of October 13th, 2018. In order for these immigrants to make their way to the U.S.-Mexico border, they have to pass through Guatemala and Mexico. The Caravan participants plan on traveling together through these two countries and seek asylum once they reach the United States.

WHY is the Caravan coming?

The Caravan participants are hoping to find a better life either in Mexico or in the United States away from the crime, corruption, and the poverty of their homeland, which is notorious for its high murder rates.

Most of the immigrants that make up the Caravan are from Honduras as this is the country in which the Caravan originated. The Caravan was planned as a result of people looking to travel safely through Mexico without having to pay smugglers thousands of dollars to make their way to the United States. There are times that these payments are simply taken and the alleged smugglers disappear, or in some cases, the smugglers turn immigrants over to cartels or authorities. For these reasons, the Caravan participants are hoping to find a better life either in Mexico or in the United States away from crime, corruption, and the poverty of their homeland, which is notorious for its high murder rates. It is important to recognize that not all of the initial immigrants will make it, so some have turned back and other have sought asylum in Mexico.


WHERE is the Caravan NOW?

Caravan members have been kidnapped in “the largest grave in [Mexico] where hundreds of people have disappeared.”

As of Friday, November 2nd, the Caravan arrived in the state of Veracruz, Mexico. This state is known for its beautiful scenery; however, it is also the home of deadly cartel-fueled violence. Once the Caravan arrived, the governor, Miguel Angel Yunes, said he would provide buses that would transport the participants to Mexico City, but this buses never arrived. After waiting for the buses and realizing that they were not arriving, Caravan participants began to look for modes of transportation to make it to Mexico City. It has been claimed by critics that the Governor was pressured to stand down to avoid a clash at the United States border before the elections in the United States. As a result, hundreds of Caravan members have been kidnapped in “the largest gravein [Mexico] where hundreds of people have disappeared.”

As expected, there have been many tragedies that have been undertaken by this traveling town, the Caravan: a man died after he fell from a crowded truck and several women have had miscarriages on the way. These are only a few of the tragedies that the Caravan has faced and only some of its members have endured.

In sum, the Caravan remains in Mexico and is currently making its way to the United States-Mexico border. However, it isunclearwhat part of the U.S. border the Caravan will aim for or how many of the participants will splinter off on their own; some participants may separate from the group and cross over separately while some may remain in Mexico. Right now,the closest border crossing to the Caravan is between Matamoros, Mexico and Brownsville, Texas. This border crossing is about 1,000 miles away from the group’s current location. This route is very dangerous and will not likely be taken due to the risks that the Caravan will be exposed to if it decides to take this route.

WHAT awaits the Caravan?

The trump administrationhas requested the Department of Defense to send down troops to assist law enforcement at the border as the Caravan comes to the border with “very bad people.”  

Originally, the United States and Mexico had reached a deal on how to deal with the caravan once it reached Mexican soil, in order to prevent it from making its way to the United States- Mexico border. Nonetheless, President Trump contends that this deal has proved to be ineffective as the Caravan tore through border fences in the Guatemala and Mexico border. This, in fact did not happen; the migrants crossed the Mexico and Guatemala border through the river,not by passing through, much less by tearing a fence.

Due to this, the trump administrationhas requested the Department of Defense to send down troops to assist law enforcement at the border as the Caravan comes to the border with “very bad people.” President Donald Trump has ordered U.S. troops to the Mexican border in response to the caravans,with more than 7,000 active duty troops to deploy to Texas, Arizona and California. The reaction of military officials to this request has been such as: “the military has all of a sudden been placed in a highly politicized environment regarding immigration” – retired Lt. Gen. David Barno, who commanded U.S. forces in Afghanistan. In short, President Trump has ordered thousands of troopsto the US-Mexico border, he has considered sending as many as 15,000 troops, which is roughly the size of the U.S. military’s presence in Afghanistan.

Additionally, as a result of the Caravan, President Trump has tweeted that the US government will begin cutting off the foreign aid to the countries from which the Caravan members are from; however, agencies have not received any guidance over foreign aid cuts. In fact, key Trump administration officials believe that the only way to reduce emigration from Central America to the US is to invest MORE in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, the home countries of many of the Caravan members.

Lastly, President Trump has stated that “the Caravansare 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!” Nonetheless, no evidence has been produced that shows that the migrants in the caravan, many of which are women and children, pose a threat to the United States.

To conclude, as thousands flee their corrupt and violent home countries, the United States President awaits them as he states:  “to those in the Caravan, turnaround, we are not letting people into the United States illegally. Go back to your Country and if you want, apply for citizenship like millions of others are doing!” Indeed, the Caravan has caused a controversy between what can easily be considered a human tragedy and what others consider an “invasion.”


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About Jaquelinne Murillo Figueroa (2 Articles)
Jaquelinne Murillo Figueroa is a third year law student and serves as a Staff Writer for the Campbell Law Observer. She is originally from Guanajuato, Mexico. In 2014, Jaquelinne received her Bachelor's degree from North Carolina State University in International Relations with a concentration in Latin America and minors in French and Anthropology. Before law school, as a 2014 Teach for AmericaCorps member, she was a fifth grade bilingual teacher in Harlingen, Texas. While in law school Jaquelinne has worked with Legal Aid of North Carolina's Battered Immigrant Project and the Raleigh Immigration Law Firm. She also has worked with the Poor People's Campaign Legal Team this past summer. She currently serves as ex officio student member of the Community, Diversity, and Student Life Committee, the President of The Hispanic Law Student Association, Vice President of the Professional Law Student Association, Vice President of CPLSA, Vice President of International Law Club, Community Outreach Chair of Educational Law and Policy Society, and Co-coordinator for The Immigration Law Pro Bono Project. She is interested in immigration law and constitutional legal issues, as well as Death Penalty Litigation, which is why she is involved with The Center for Death Penalty Litigation’s Legal Team.