For the past two weeks, thousands of Central American migrants have been marching through southern Mexico in the hope of reaching the United States. The total number of migrants now headed to the U.S. border is reported to have grown close to 7,200. The caravan, mostly Hondurans and Guatemalans, intends to seek asylum at the U.S. border after leaving their homes due to poor living conditions and fears of violence.
Over the past decade, there has been a rise in the number of people crossing the US border fleeing violence from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.
— CBS News (@CBSNews) October 24, 2018
Under current US and international law, those who seek asylum from Central America are allowed to apply in either in Mexico or in the U.S. The U.S. has asked Mexico to apprehend Central American migrants before they get to the border to help ease the backlog of migrants applying for asylum. The tactic of migrants traveling as a caravan is used for hypervisibility when traveling. For some, it’s a way to call attention to what they’re fleeing and what migrants have to go through and to some, it’s simply an opportunity for a better life.
Where did this caravan start and who organized it?
Tonight on the migrant caravan: a giant thunderstorm, a Mariachi concert, a candlelight vigil for the young man traveling with them who died yesterday. pic.twitter.com/8axUWxeeyi
— Annie Correal (@anniecorreal) October 24, 2018
On October 12, about 160 Hondurans began their journey in hopes of arriving in Mexico or the U.S. to apply for asylum. Two days later, the caravan was more than 1,000 people, according to the Associated Press. While no person has taken credit for organizing the growing caravan, news outlets have reported that representatives from Pueblo Sin Fronteras, an immigrants rights group, have been quoted as the presumed leaders of the caravan. The group organized a similar, smaller caravan back in April. The caravan has already passed through Guatemala and is now passing through southern Mexico.
This has been of the most recognizable images of the migrant caravan as they crossed the Mexico-Guatemalan border last Friday.
VIDEO: Drone images of thousands of migrants on the border bridge between Guatemala and Mexico pic.twitter.com/3xoSHeW1E0
— AFP news agency (@AFP) October 20, 2018
Members of the migrant caravan broke through a Guatemalan border fence last Friday and rushed onto the bridge over the Suchiate River. Men and women, some with children and babies, began storming and climbing the barrier eventually tearing it down. The caravan was met by a wall of police on the Mexican side of the bridge. Police and immigration agents began letting groups of 10, 20 or 30 people through the gates if they wanted to apply for refugee status.
President Trump put blame on the Mexican government as police have been watching the caravan since crowds breached the fence and pushed past patrol agents.
President Trump has politicized the migrant caravan and has used it as a talking point as the midterm election approaches.
“Call it what you will: embellishment, mischaracterizations, lies. President Trump’s penchant for storytelling is more evident than ever.” @wolfblitzer debunks some of Trump's false statements on issues including migrant caravan, tax cuts, and voter fraud https://t.co/3tefn56K7v pic.twitter.com/yKAwTH9MT0
— CNN Newsroom (@CNNnewsroom) October 23, 2018
While caravans like this have been happening for years, President Trump has capitalized on the moment as midterms are less then two weeks away. He has taken to Twitter to criticize the governments of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras for failing to deal with the caravan and even threatening to reduce U.S. aid to these countries. He has put the blame on Democrats for the immigrant caravan and has used it as a talking point at many of his rallies to spike interest in his base.
“Every time you see a Caravan, or people illegally coming, or attempting to come, into our Country illegally, think of and blame the Democrats,” President Trump said on Twitter.
Will the caravan make it to the U.S. border and what will happen if they do?
And the #migrantcaravan continues. Some on foot, some hitchhike rides, others rest under the shade or sidewalk. They’re determined to continue their journey north in search of a better life. Next stop #Mapastepec pic.twitter.com/no68I5LAQa
— Natalie Gallón (@NGallonCNN) October 24, 2018
While many migrants in the caravan are hoping to make it to the U.S.-Mexico border some will elect to stay in Mexico (as of Monday, Mexican authorities had already received 1,000 requests for asylum from members of the caravan). The Mexican government has said that it won’t give out travel visas to members of the caravan and that people who don’t seek asylum in Mexico will be up for deportation.
If and when members of the migrant caravan make it to the U.S.-Mexico border, they will most likely seek asylum in the U.S. without papers. They are legally allowed to present themselves at the border seeking asylum but since there is a huge backlog of asylum seekers the process may take weeks.
These caravans are not set up for political purposes but as an act of a persons last hope to survive. As long as violence in Central America continues, these migrant caravans won’t be stopping anytime soon.