There is a “migrant caravan” of over 7,000 people walking north from Honduras, a South American country racked by poverty and violence, toward the United States. In response, the president of the United States has declared this event a “National Emergy,” and has directed the U.S. border patrol and military to change laws (twitter). A few days ago, a second caravan left Honduras, presumably following the path of the first (Mexico News Daily).
Some point to Bartolo Fuentes, a popular migrant advocate, as the organizer of the caravan (USA Today, The Daily Beast), but he denies this. It seems that once a critical mass began the exodus, many decided to join. They are fleeing hunger and violence (USA Today). According to one of the travelers:
“My daughter had to flee so she wouldn’t be killed. By chance, she witnessed the execution of a man by gunfire, she was also shot and I’m afraid that those people will kill us.” (Mexico News Daily)
Given the upcoming U.S. election, many fake news claims have been bandied about, ranging from the sinister (terrorist are lurking among the throngs) to the silly (Democrats/liberals/George Soros are funding the venture) (BBC, Fox News, Politico). Denis Omar Contreras, a spokesman for Pueblo Sin Fronteras (People Without Borders), disputes such claims.
“There isn’t a single terrorist here. We are all people from Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua.” (Mexico News Daily)
But, why come as a large group? Reporters point to two reasons. The minor reason is that it makes a political statement. But, the major reason is for safety. Not only are the migrants fleeing violence, they are traveling through it. According to The Guardian, eighty percent of the females who cross Mexico to get to America are raped on the way.
What is likely to become of the people that make up this caravan? Some U.S. senators have proposed that Mexico take them in (Fox News, document). Mexico seems to already be pulling its weight as a migrant buffer, though. According to The New Republic, “since 2014, the United States has spent nearly $200 million expanding a deportation regime in Mexico that has expelled over 600,000 migrants, mostly to the Northern Triangle countries—Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.” Those who reach the U.S. border are not home free. Currently, the U.S. border patrol arrests about 400,000 migrants every year. Twenty years ago (in a better economy), the rate was over double that amount (Politico). While those who make it to the U.S. border must, by law, be granted an opportunity to seek asylum (San Francisco Chronicle), typically only about one out of every four asylum seekers from Honduras might hope to be allowed to stay (Voice of San Diego, Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse). Still, those odds may be worth the walking lotto these folks are playing.
Carlos Leonidas Garcia Urbina left Honduras with just $20 in his pocket. But, he’s optimistic. “We are going to the promised land,” he says (TPM).