The slow-moving Central American Caravan finally arrived at the U.S. border this weekend, unimpeded by the Mexican government despite claims that they were going to help with the impending crisis. Migrants from El Salvador, Honduras, Venezuela, and other Central American countries converged at the fence on Sunday, requesting asylum in the United States from an administration that has expressed anger and disbelief at our southern ally’s refusal to do anything about the caravan’s movement.
Hundreds of migrants are now camped out in Playas de Tijuana, directly south of the California border fence. Several young migrants have already illegally scaled the fence and fallen into Border Patrol custody, while hundreds of others are hoping to be let through on the basis of their asylum claims.
The scene has naturally attracted protesters from both sides of the immigration debate. Pro-immigration activists are cheering the caravan on and pleading with the Trump administration to let them through to live a better life in the U.S. Anti-immigration activists want the president to come through on his promise to crack down on illegal crossings with a demonstration of law and order that was missing from his predecessor’s administration.
Trump mentioned the caravan at a rally on Saturday, asking the crowd: “Are you watching that mess that’s going on right now with the caravan coming up? We have the worst laws anywhere in the world. We don’t have borders.”
Trump has called on Mexico to block the caravan’s progress, but he has – more importantly – called on Congress to reform our immigration laws and build a wall across the border that will make emergencies like this a thing of the past. Thus far, neither entity has shown much interest in helping.
Look, we recognize that many of the people in this caravan are merely trying to escape a life of violence and chaos in their home countries. But let’s take a look at these paragraphs from a writeup in the Los Angeles Times and observe an instructive lesson in geopolitics:
In a statement last week, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said the department has been “closely monitoring” the remnants of the caravan. She said the agency “encourages persons with asylum or other similar claims to seek protections in the first safe country they enter, including Mexico.”
But Maureen Meyer of the Washington Office on Latin America, a human rights advocacy group, said that “it’s naive to think that most of the Central Americans will want to request asylum in Mexico.”
While Mexico “has increased its capacity to process and screen potential asylum seekers, it still has a long way to go,” she said. “With widespread kidnappings, theft, sexual assaults and other crimes against migrants in Mexico, it is hard to think that Central Americans will view Mexico as a place they want to settle.”
It’s not only that Mexico has no interest in housing these “refugees,” it’s that the refugees have no interest in Mexico. Well, this is the very definition of a choosing beggar. The U.S. cannot and must not become the world’s dumping ground for every country that can’t bother to protect its citizenry. You don’t have to be a genius to see that, before long, we will become just like the countries from which these people are fleeing. Say what you will about Mexico, but they get it.
It’s time for us to “get it,” too.