Migrant caravan has legal right to seek asylum

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In mid-October, a massive group of migrants began traveling from Honduras to the southern United States border in an attempt to escape gang violence and poverty in their home countries of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. Though this is not the first migrant caravan, it is the largest in recent memory and has drawn attention from President Trump, and his reaction will shape the outcome of the midterm elections on Nov. 6.

It’s unsurprising that President Trump has repeatedly used fear tactics in regard to the caravan.

“I am watching the Democrat Party lead (because they want Open Borders and existing weak laws) assault our country by Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, whose leaders are doing little to stop this large flow of people, INCLUDING MANY CRIMINALS, from entering Mexico to U.S,” Trump tweeted on Oct. 18. He then threatened to stop all foreign aid to these countries, because he claims they did nothing to stop the caravan from their effort to enter the United States.

On Oct. 25, Trump tweeted, “To those in the Caravan, turnaround, we are not letting people into the United States illegally. Go back to your Country and if you want, apply for citizenship like millions of others are doing!”

However, these people are not coming illegally. After the United States failed to protect Jews during the Holocaust, we signed international treaties and internal laws in order to protect individuals fleeing persecution in their home countries. The United States asylum laws require individuals to be in the country to apply for asylum.

Trump is attempting to make the migrant caravan a factor in the upcoming elections by saying that thousands of undocumented immigrants are going to enter the United States with no repercussions. However, it is not that easy. According to TRAC Immigration, 61.8 percent of asylum seekers were denied in 2017. With this in mind, only a fraction of the individuals in the caravan would be permitted to stay in the United States.

Another argument against the migrant caravan is that criminals and drugs are going to be brought into the United States. Why would criminals and gang members leave the countries where they are powerful and able to commit crime without punishment? They would stay in their home countries because they know they have astronomically more power there compared to what they would have if they left.

All I can think is how horrible the living conditions must have been for these people to walk from Honduras to Mexico with their children. Honduras has the highest crime rate on the planet, so of course families are fleeing.

What shocks me most is that Mexico, a country with minimal resources, has offered support.

According to the New York Times, “As the caravan entered Mexico, some travelers were pushed back or met with tear gas at the border. But as the migrants have advanced, officials and residents have largely greeted them with an outpouring of support, preparing food, handing out water and providing rides. Some have offered the floors of their homes and businesses for sleeping, and menial jobs if participants wanted to abandon the journey.”

Why is it that Mexico, the country our president claims is full of rapists and criminals, is willing to help migrants but we are not? Do we not have enough resources, or have we made the collective decision to ignore issues that do not affect us?

President Trump has made it clear that he will continue criminalizing immigrants no matter where they come from. His argument that the caravan contains “criminals and unknown Middle Easterners” has no basis other than blatant racism. These citizens have a legal right to seek asylum if they reach the United States, and it is our moral obligation to allow them that right.