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What You Need To Know About The Migrant Caravan That Is Heading Towards The US-Mexico Border

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.

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?

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.

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.

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?

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.


READ: The Trump Administration Has Been Blocked From Removing Thousands Of Central American Immigrants

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Another Member Of The US Military Has Been Arrested For Smuggling Undocumented People Across The Border

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Another Member Of The US Military Has Been Arrested For Smuggling Undocumented People Across The Border

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The U.S. military is going through a serious rough patch. Not only are they have issues recruiting new service members, but they’re also having problems retaining mental health workers, which is a really big deal because they help the people already inlisted. Now we’re seeing the ramifications of that.  Just this week a U.S. Navy sailor shot and killed two people at Hawaii’s Pearl Harbor military installation. The Navy sailor went on to kill himself. It all happened in the same week as the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, which the celebration is supposed to take place this Saturday. The issues the military is facing is not combatting depression and other mental health problems within their units, but some ethical ones that go completely against what the country stands for. 

On December 2, U.S. marine was charged for smuggling undocumented people across the border near San Diego, California.

Credit: Unsplash

“On December 2, 2019, at approximately 1:30 a.m., a junior-enlisted Marine with Headquarters Battalion, 1st Marine Division was taken into custody by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) personnel for allegedly bringing in undocumented immigrants at the San Ysidro port of entry,” the Marine Corps said in a statement, according to ABC News. “The Marine is currently being held in civilian custody. The determination as to the adjudicating authority has not yet been made.”

The 20-year-old Marine has not been publically named, but the news station adds that they were not part of the “Trump administration’s southwest border support mission.”

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Additional reports say the Marine was pulled over in a 2007 Ford Mustang for “additional screening.” That is when border officials found two Chinese women in his trunk. 

“The Marine is currently being held in civilian custody,” Marine spokesman Lt. Cameron Edinburgh said in a statement to Fox News. “The determination as to the adjudicating authority has not yet been made.”

This latest charge comes on the heels of a slew of other military officials who have also arrested on similar smuggling charges.

Credit: Unsplash

Just this summer, 19 Marines were arrested for various offenses. ABC News reports that the Marines were allegedly involved “in activities ranging from human smuggling to drug-related offenses.” All of the Marines involved in this case were stationed at Camp Pendleton in San Diego. The number of marines involved in this case gradually increased from 16 to 19.

“1st Marine Division is committed to justice and the rule of law, and we will continue to fully cooperate with NCIS on this matter,” the statement said, according to the network. “Any Marines found to be in connection with these alleged activities will be questioned and handled accordingly with respect to due process.”

According to Stripes.com, the Marines were all arrested in front of their peers during their morning formation and that was done purposely to make an example out of them. 

“It was a public display for the entire unit to see,” 1st Marine Division Spokesman 1st Lt. Cameron Edinburgh told the online news site. 

As for the reason to not disclose the names of the Marines arrested, Marine Maj. Kendra Motz said that is because “Out of respect for the privacy of the implicated Marines,” and added, “we will not release names or other identifying information until charges are announced.” Six out of those marines arrested have already pleaded guilty to human trafficking and drug charges. 

In related news, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced that detainments at the border continue to decrease.

Credit: Unsplash

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Mark Morgan said last month that in October, the trend of a decline of detainments at the border continues to show a decline. 

“The numbers show this administration has and continues to take bold action to address this crisis,” Morgan said, according to The Texan news. 

In May, however, it was a whole different story.  Back then, border officials said they saw 144,000 detainments in one month alone. From then until October, there has been a 70 percent. 

It’s certainly an odd predicament that the government and the military are facing because on the one hand detainments at the border are going down, which speaks positively of their security tactics. Yet, on the other hand, their own military workforce looks to be in quite the dilemma going against their own principals. 

READ: CBP Arrests A 16-Year-Old After Catching Them Using A Remote Control Car To Smuggling Drugs Across The Border

A Group Of Doctors Offered To Provide Detained Migrants Free Flu Shots But The US Government Said No

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A Group Of Doctors Offered To Provide Detained Migrants Free Flu Shots But The US Government Said No

The weather is growing colder, the days are growing shorter, and flu season has started to rear its ugly head. As usual, the government is encouraging anyone older than six months to get the vaccine, but one population is actually being denied flu shots.

Thousands of people are still detained at Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facilities for undocumented entry, and so far, none of them have had access to the influenza vaccine.

Credit: Fort George G. Meade Public Affairs Office / Flickr

A few months ago, CBP camps were dismally overcrowded—they are still seeing an average of 3,500 people in custody each day, but that number has decreased substantially from a daily average of 20,000 migrants earlier this year (from January through July, over 600,000 migrants were detained after attempting to cross the border). Nevertheless, the conditions of the CBP sites (cramped quarters, limited access to hygienic facilities, etc.) make a perfect breeding ground for viruses, yet CBP officials have claimed that it would be too difficult to implement a vaccine program within their current infrastructure, which includes a staff of more than 250 medical personnel.

“To try and layer a comprehensive vaccinations system on to that would be logistically very challenging for a number of reasons. There’s a system and process for implementing vaccines—for supply chains, for quality control, for documentation, for informed consent, for adverse reactions,” the CBP said in a statement. They also said that this policy has been in place for some time, largely due to the fact that their “typical” processing time of 72 hours doesn’t warrant the need for interventions like vaccination. Of course, most of the people being held at CBP facilities have been there much longer than three days.

On top of not vaccinating the thousands of people in their custody, CBP does not require their staff to get a flu shot—a policy that could not only perpetuate the virus in CBP facilities but could also put their own families at risk.

Credit: customsborder / Instagram

“CBP officers could be shedding the virus. You are adding a whole other layer to what is basic medical neglect,” said Dr. Bonnie Arzuaga, a pediatrician based in Boston who also founded Doctors for Camp Closure. “In every other institutionalized setting—hospitals, schools, long term healthcare facilities—staff are required to get the flu shot.” The influenza vaccine is essential in institutionalized settings because of its incredibly high contagion rate. According to the CDC, the flu is contagious up to 24 hours before someone develops symptoms and up to a week afterward.

Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University and a longtime adviser to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention acknowledged that this year, the flu has started early and is already wreaking havoc all over the country. Dr. Jennifer Shu, an Atlanta-based pediatrician, noted that many of her patients hadn’t even had a chance to get their flu shots before getting infected. “This year, I had children testing positive for the flu in early October,” said Shu. “We don’t usually see flu that early in the year.” So far, of the main circulating strains is Influenza B, which has a propensity to hit children especially hard.

As many as 61,200 adults and 143 children died from complications of the flu illness in the 2018-2019 flu season. Three of those children died of the flu while in CBP custody.

Credit: customsborder / Instagram

To combat CBP’s negligence and prevent further deaths of the individuals in their care, Arzuaga’s Doctors for Camp Closure volunteered to provide free vaccinations to people in CBP’s care. The group formed in August of this year and is comprised of around 2,000 physician members, many of whom signed a letter to federal officials offering this vaccination service. The physicians stated that they initially planned to vaccinate 100 migrants, ultimately hoping to vaccinate the majority of the people currently detained.

The doctors with Doctors for Camp Closure confirmed that of 200,000 children in federal custody last year, the three deaths mentioned above, which were attributed to complications from influenza, are nine times higher than the expected child death rate from the flu. “In our professional medical opinion, this alarming mortality rate constitutes an emergency which threatens the safety of human lives, particularly children,” says the Doctors for Camp Closure letter.

The CBP ultimately dismissed this letter and the physicians’ offer to administer free vaccines. Kelly Cahalan, CBP spokesperson, told The Post that her agency has never provided immunizations for detained migrants and has no plans to do so. And a representative told CNN, “We haven’t responded [to the letter], but it’s not likely to happen.”

READ: Three Migrants Kids Died Of Flu-Related Illness, Now The Trump Administration Is Refusing To Administer The Vaccine