Despite the latest incidents of domestic terrorism, President Trump has chosen to sensationalize the migrant caravan that originated in Honduras in what many called “a mid-term strategy” to turn out his base. At EcoViva we feel the need to disrupt the myths, call on the administration to allow asylum seekers to go through their legally protected process, and bring focus back to the healing of our nation over the hate crimes committed.
October saw the beginning of the “migrant caravan,” the second one this year, formed by a group of asylum seekers and migrants who originated from Honduras. Since then, the number of people fleeing the Northern Triangle has fluctuated, at its peak it was reported the caravan included up to 7,000 people, gaining members along the route through Guatemala and Mexico. But what caused Hondurans to initiate the caravan and leave their country in the first place?
The caravan members have shared many reasons, including: poverty, hunger, violence, corruption and impunity. Many of these issues are influenced by US intervention and climate change. For those facing daily challenges to survive, the caravan provided an opportunity to make the perilous journey with the protection and solidarity of a group.
The United States presidential administration’s response has been business as usual: creating a fear-mongering media storm on Fox News and Twitter, calling the caravan an “invasion,” playing up racial stereotypes and pumping out conspiracy theories.
The President first threatened to cut government aid programs to the Northern Triangle. These funds arrive to the country in the form of technical assistance, contracts and capacity building for the governments via US NGOs. In fact, some activists support the proposal to end the aid program, arguing that they do not address the root causes of the problems. Instead, many of the failed programs by the US to “help” Central America have historically funded right-wing military training and operations. These interventions have led to tremendous instability in Honduras, including the 2009 coup and its aftermath. These poorly thought out interventions amount to modern day imperialism that continues to exacerbate local issues and drive migration.
President Trump’s response is to call for the deployment of 15,000 troops to the border to meet the caravan and to end birthright citizenship through an executive order.
Seeking asylum is neither illegal nor criminal and according to journalists, and even Paul Ryan, ending birthright citizenship by executive order is not an option. It is clear that this administration’s intention is to instill fear in the public around asylum-seekers and migrants by any means necessary, including false claims that people from the Middle East are in the caravan. Fox News continues to fuel this rhetoric and has gone so far as to say that the caravan is bringing infectious diseases to US soil. Vice President Mike Pence has also repeated unsubstantiated claims that the left is funding the caravan as a political ploy.
Despite the threats by the current administration and the violence faced in Mexico, two more caravans originating in El Salvador are taking up the difficult journey. The White House reports it will maintain military troops at the border, limit the rights of asylum-seekers, and roll-out a new family separation policy.
The Trump administration continues to devise narratives and implement policies that are based on falsehoods fueled by racism, classism and xenophobia. At EcoViva, we stand in solidarity with the caravan and their right to migrate or to seek asylum status as granted in the universal declaration of human rights. It is up to all of us to demand that the United States support the caravan through a fair and legal asylum process. As the administration continues to implement new plans that violate human rights, we will continue to condemn any actions sought to criminalize those arriving to seek asylum.