Just the Facts

Five Facts on the Migrant Caravan

By No Labels
October 26, 2018 | Blog

In recent weeks a caravan of approximately 7,000 Central American migrants travelling toward the United States has garnered national attention and become another chapter in America’s heated debate over immigration. Here are five facts on the migrant caravan:

Over the past decade migrant caravans have become a common form of travel for immigrants from Central and South America trying to make their way to the United States

Migrant caravans initially started as caravans of Central American mothers whose children disappeared while making the journey north to the United States. The mothers would travel in the steps of their lost children to draw attention to just how perilous the journey north could be. Over the years the caravans have increased in size as both a way to provide security to migrants who are at risk of things such as extortion, rape, and theft, as well as a form of civil disobedience to the increased militarization of the U.S.-Mexican border.

The migrant caravan currently making its way towards the U.S. got its start on October 12 in Honduras

160 Hondurans disembarked from the northern Honduran city of San Pedro Sula.  By October 15, as the caravan crossed into Guatemala, the group was reported to be 1,600 Hondurans strong.  As the caravan has made its way through Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico it has grown to more than 7,000 people, making it the largest ever of its kind.  While the group is still approximately 1,000 miles away from U.S. territory, it is unclear if it will continue to grow or dwindle in size as the journey prolongs.  It is estimated that it could take up to two months before the caravan finally reaches the U.S. and factors ranging from President Trump’s strong rhetoric to complications from being on the road for so long could cause some to turn back.

On Friday Defense Secretary James Mattis signed off on a request from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to send additional troops to the border

This news came after President Trump tweeted “I am bringing out the military for this National Emergency.” It is expected that the Pentagon will send 700 troops to the border, which would add to the roughly 2,100 National Guard soldiers that the president ordered to the southern border this past April. It is unclear if these additional troops will be comprised of more National Guardsmen, or if the president could try to send active duty troops to the border, a move that would need to clear numerous legal hurdles. In a recent interview DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen stated “this caravan cannot come the United States. They will not be allowed in. They will not be allowed to stay.”

President Trump is considering an executive action and regulatory change that would block the caravan from entering the United States

While no formal plans have been announced by the White House, Politico has reported that the administration is planning to publish fast-track regulations that would restrict certain migrants’ ability to seek asylum paired with a related proclamation from President Trump.  According to the sources, President Trump would issue a proclamation next Tuesday invoking broad presidential powers to bar foreigners from entering the country for national security reasons. Simultaneously, the administration would put in place new rules that would bar migrants who cross the border in between authorized ports of entry from claiming asylum. The only exception would be for people facing torture at home. Not only would these rules block thousands of migrants in the caravan but could have broad implications for the future of U.S. asylum policy.

President Trump’s proposed strategy has received push back from both political parties

Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin (MD) stated that Trump “should be looking for ways of providing the needs for these individuals before they hit our borders,” while Republican Sens. Charles Grassley (IA) and Mike Lee (UT) have urged the president to encourage Mexico to grant the migrants asylum.

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