Families, women, and children, young girls, teenage boys….these are the desperate and hungry people who make up this caravan of refugees crossing Mexico with the hope of finding safety in the United States.
It’s not an invasion, no matter what the hysterical president might say. And it’s entirely legal. Under both U.S. and international law, those fleeing violence from Central American countries are allowed to apply for asylum in both Mexico and in the U.S.
For safety, these families have banded together to search out a secure place for their children to go to school, play, grow up. This human caravan is reported to have begun in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, known as the murder capital of the world. The group grew to more than 1,600 Hondurans by the time they reached the Guatemalan border. Although Guatemala first attempted to deny the refugees entrance, the government later relented. By the time this caravan reached the Mexican border, it was a group of over 4,000.
On October 19, these desperate men, women, and children were attacked with pepper spray by Mexican forces at the border. Nine children, 18 women, two of them pregnant and six men were injured during the attack. Although Mexico has since allowed the caravan to enter, even issuing 45-day visas with the idea that they should be able to reach the US border within that time frame, the government is not making any official efforts to assist the group. In fact, an arrangement that would have allowed the group to take buses to Mexico City was denied, with many saying it was government pressure that caused the plan to fall through. Although the first caravan has finally arrived in Mexico City despite it all.
The residents of small towns in Mexico along the route have been generous with their support. Volunteers have been providing food, clothing, and medicine to the refugees. The Mexican President has also made some concessions. As long as these migrants remain in Chiapas and Oaxaca, two of the nation’s poorest states and far, far from the U.S. border, they will be given temporary ID cards, work permits, medical care, schooling, and housing in hostels under the Estás en Tu Casa proposal.
Of course, this proposal doesn’t take into account that some areas of Mexico are just as dangerous as the countries these refugees are fleeing. Or address the fact that the U.S. has commissioned Mexico to keep these migrants from its borders. It is estimated that 950,000 Central Americans have been deported from Mexico in the past few years and there is reason to believe that thousands more have disappeared. The enormous number of mass graves found in Mexico give credence to that. Even with these reasons against staying in Mexico, many have applied for permission to remain. Others, however, are determined to reach the U.S.
There are an estimated 2,300 children in this huddled mass of homeless humanity. Some are ill, all are hungry and tired, yet the caravan moves on step-by-step. These parents must know that the chances of their families being allowed to stay together is remote. Perhaps, their thought is that even if their children are taken from them, maybe adopted or placed in child detention centers, as awful as that may be, there is a chance that their children will survive, something these parents did not believe would happen in their native countries.
So instead of all this mass hysteria, why not take a moment to walk a mile in the shoes of these anxious parents and exhausted children and consider the lengths you would go for your family?