Central American Migrant Caravan Headed This Way

More than 1200 refugees, mostly from Honduras, are trying to come to the United States. What should we do about it?

A group of 1200 migrants, mostly from Honduras, is working its way through Mexico with the United States as its destination.

Reuters (“Migrant caravan heading to U.S. border puts Mexico in tough spot with Trump“):

In some of the Mexican towns playing host to a “caravan” of more than 1,200 Central American migrants heading to the U.S. border, the welcome mat has been rolled out despite President Donald Trump’s call for Mexican authorities to stop them.

Local officials have offered lodging in town squares and empty warehouses or arranged transport for the migrants, participants in a journey organized by the immigrant advocacy group Pueblo Sin Fronteras. The officials have conscripted buses, cars, ambulances and police trucks. But the help may not be entirely altruistic.

“The authorities want us to leave their cities,” said Rodrigo Abeja, an organizer from Pueblo Sin Fronteras. “They’ve been helping us, in part to speed the massive group out of their jurisdictions.”

At some point this spring, the caravan’s 2,000-mile (3,200-km) journey that began at Tapachula near the Guatemalan border on March 25 will end at the U.S. border, where some of its members will apply for asylum, while others will attempt to sneak into the United States.

So far the Mexican federal government has provided little guidance on how to handle the migrants but Abeja worries that local reactions will change.

“There’s a lot of pressure from authorities to stop the caravan because of Donald Trump’s reaction,” he said.

Trump railed on Twitter against the caravan on Monday, accusing Mexico of “doing very little, if not NOTHING” to stop the flow of immigrants crossing the U.S. border illegally. “They must stop the big drug and people flows, or I will stop their cash cow, NAFTA,” he concluded.

Mexico’s interior minister Alfonso Navarrete did not directly address the caravan, but he wrote on Twitter that he spoke to the U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen on Monday, and that the two had “agreed to analyze the best ways to attend to the flows of migrants in accordance with the laws of each country.”

Mexico must walk a delicate line with the United States as the countries are in the midst of renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) along with Canada. At the same time, Mexican left-wing presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has an 18-point lead ahead of the July 1 election, according to a poll published on Monday. A Lopez Obrador victory could usher in a Mexican government less accommodating toward the United States on both trade and immigration issues.

Mexican Senator Angelica de la Pena, who presides over the Senate’s human rights commission, told Reuters that Mexico should protect migrants’ rights despite the pressure from Trump.

Former President Vicente Fox called for Mexican officials to take a stand against Trump’s attacks. Trump keeps “blackmailing, offending and denigrating Mexico and Mexicans,” he wrote on Twitter on Monday.

Under Mexican law, Central Americans who enter Mexico legally are generally allowed to move freely through the country, even if their goal is to cross illegally into the United States.

That’s mighty convenient: Mexico has open borders because they understand few will migrants want to make that country their home. They’re willfully aiding and abetting people intent on violating US immigration law. The childishness of President Trump’s actual policy responses notwithstanding, the underlying grievance is legitimate.

That said, these aren’t simply people looking for better opportunities; many are legitimate refugees:

Migrants in the caravan cite a variety of reasons for joining it. Its members are disproportionately from Honduras, which has high levels of violence and has been rocked by political upheaval in recent months following the re-election of U.S.-backed president, Juan Orlando Hernández in an intensely disputed election.

Maria Elena Colindres Ortega, a member of caravan and, until January, a member of Congress in Honduras, said she is fleeing the political upheaval at home. “We’ve had to live through fraudulent electoral process,” she said. “We’re suffering a progressive militarization and lack of institutions, and … they’re criminalizing those who protested.”

But, of course, being a refugee doesn’t entitle one to simply select the country on the planet where one would most like to live:

Typically, Central Americans have not fared well with U.S. asylum claims, particularly those from Honduras. A Reuters analysis of immigration court data found that Hondurans who come before the court receive deportation orders in more than 83 percent of cases, the highest rate of any nationality. Hondurans also face deportation in Mexico, where immigration data shows that 5,000 Hondurans were deported from Mexico in February alone, the highest number since May 2016.

Maunel Padilla, chief of the border patrol’s Rio Grande Valley sector, one of the busiest crossing points on the U.S. Mexico border, said in an interview with Reuters that he worries the caravan could “generate interest for other groups to do the same thing,” but he was not terribly nervous about coping with the group currently traveling.

“Not to be flippant,” Padilla said, “but it’s similar numbers to what we are seeing every day pretty much.”

The price of being a rich country, I suppose.

Whether prompted by this specific crisis or the broader debate spawned by Trump’s tweets, Dave Schuler asks a not-so-simple question: “What Should Our Immigration Policy Be?” His answer:

I think that we should greatly increase the number of work visas available to Mexicans, impose workplace-based enforcement of immigration law with serious penalties for failure to enforce, abandon family reunification and diversity as criteria for granting visas, enforce educational and tourist visas, tighten up greatly on the L-1 visa, and return the H1-B program to what it was supposed to be—a way of admitting more people who had skills unavailable in the domestic market. Over the years it has transmogrified into a way of bringing in relatively low level clerical and technical workers. Basically, it’s a fraud.

With respect to the beneficiaries of DACA, the Congress should establish some set of criteria and those criteria should be enforced rigorously. The parents of the “DREAMers” should not be included.

I haven’t studied our visa programs enough to have a strong opinion on reforming L-1 or H1-B. Otherwise, I’m generally on board with Dave’s preferred policies, especially much more liberal legal immigration from Mexico and a shift to much more stringent employer-based enforcement vice having swarms of ICE and Border Patrol agents out harassing brown people.

The problem, of course, is that it’s incredibly difficult to enforce our immigration laws given our continental size, the immenseness of our border with Mexico, and the push-pull factors created by the relative lifestyle differences available on the two sides. Workplace enforcement would be more humane than our current approach but it will still be viewed as harassment of people who look Hispanic.

For security, economic, and cultural reasons, I don’t support open borders. We have a right to choose who comes to live here. That we’re “a nation of immigrants” who had virtually open borders over a century ago when we were trying to settle a continent doesn’t obligate us to continue that policy in perpetuity now that we’re a more mature polity.

It’s perfectly reasonable to prefer immigrants who speak the language and bring education and skills. At the same time, the sort of grit that drives one to walk to the United States all the way from Honduras is awfully attractive. But where does one draw the line?

UPDATE (April 5): It’s clear from the discussion below that several assertions and implications in the Reuters report that formed the basis for this post were simply incorrect. Regardless, it appears the caravan, such as it was, has in fact been stopped by the Mexican authorities. See Doug Mataconis’ follow-up post, “‘Caravan’ Of Immigrants To Largely End Its Journey Through Mexico.”

FILED UNDER: Borders and Immigration, Latin America
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Cheryl Rofer says:

    What should we do about it? Welcome them and take care of them.

    There’s that thing about “‘Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore” that you may have forgotten. Without it, most of us wouldn’t be here. It doesn’t say “needs to speak the language and bring education and skills.”




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  2. KM says:

    May I ask what makes this applicants any more or less then others who seek asylum in our land? Other then Trump’s bitchfit about “caravans”, what makes these people unworthy of consideration for asylum? I’m not saying they have to be granted it but I don’t understand the automated knee-jerk no. People who seek asylum generally don’t have the skills or knowledge one would need to fit other visa but we take them out of compassion anyways.

    At least give them the chance. If the answer is no, the least they deserve is the same fair chance someone fleeing any other nation would get. America has the right to say “no we don’t want you” but due to the fact we even have this process, we owe them the right to plead their case like everyone else.




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  3. MBunge says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    How many of them can move in with you? That kind of cheap virtue signaling is only making things worse.

    Dealing with a couple thousand refugees/migrants/whatever shouldn’t be a problem for a nation of over 300,000,000 but it just becomes a symbol of our political establishment’s failure to manage our immigration policy. There are no good, easy, or pleasant answers to this any longer and Donald Trump is not to blame.

    Mike




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  4. drj says:

    They’re willfully aiding and abetting people intent on violating US immigration law.

    If, as you say, many of these people are “legitimate refugees,” they are clearly not intent on on violating US immigration law.

    In fact, the US has a legal obligation to recognize valid claims for asylum under the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees (a UN treaty), to which the US is a party.




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  5. James Pearce says:

    It’s perfectly reasonable to prefer immigrants who speak the language and bring education and skills. At the same time, the sort of grit that drives one to walk to the United States all the way from Honduras is awfully attractive. But where does one draw the line?

    Where you draw the line is obvious once you decide how you want to view immigrants. There’s the “what can you do for us?” view: bring me your skills, language and computer, and your degree from the University of Mumbai. And there’s the “what can I do for you?” view: Bring me your tired, hungry, unemployed. We’ll have you paying rent and eating junk food in no time.

    I propose a different view: Viewing immigrants as culturally essential. We need these people, not because they can work for us or we can be nice to them, but because we don’t have what they do: a different perspective.




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  6. @James:

    Mexico has open borders because they understand few will migrants want to make that country their home. They’re willfully aiding and abetting people intent on violating US immigration law. The childishness of President Trump’s actual policy responses notwithstanding, the underlying grievance is legitimate.

    I would have to refresh my memory, but I do not think it is accurate that Mexico has “open borders” (I am fairly certain that that is not true from a de jure position, anyway. De facto conditions may be another matter).

    I am also not sure that it is fair to say that the Mexican government is ” willfully aiding and abetting” this process–it may be passively allowing it to happen, but willfulness is another matter.

    And yes, it could be that the US government could work with the Mexican government on this issue (which has happened in that past). Of course (and I know you agree) that does not mean tweeting threats.




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  7. @Steven L. Taylor: Also:

    because they understand few will migrants want to make that country their home

    Actually, a lot of them do stay in Mexico.




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  8. And: Mexico does actively deport migrants who have illegally migrated into Mexico.




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  9. Kathy says:

    The note doesn’t say, but if these people entered Mexico legally (which requires just a passport), there’s no valid reason why they can’t move around Mexico freely. This would be true in most countries, BTW, including the US.

    Why would you expect a country to violate its laws and customs to satisfy America’s phobias?




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  10. Cheryl Rofer says:

    @MBunge: They’ve been moving into my town, and most are hardworking in the service of a better life for their kids. Just like my ancestors and yours. It’s true they’re not moving into my house, but they haven’t had to. They’re doing just fine finding their own lodgings.




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  11. Kathy says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I would have to refresh my memory, but I do not think it is accurate that Mexico has “open borders”

    No it doesn’t. You need a valid passport to enter legally. You also fill out a form and go through customs inspection.

    There aren’t many barriers to entry. There are no visas, no travel bans, no extensive questioning for most people.




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  12. michael reynolds says:

    With some relatively minor quibbles I agree with Schuler and Joyner. But I also quite like @James Pearce’s idea above. It’s not practical, maybe, but it appeals to me on a sort of romantic level.

    I am not for open borders. We have a perfect right to decide who gets to live in the United States. This is our country, just as Mexico belongs to Mexicans and Honduras belongs to Hondurans. The prime criterion for admission should be, “What are you bringing with you?” Skills? Education? Money? Talent? Just about every country we admire applies those criteria. Immigrants are potential assets. Is a Korean with an advanced degree more likely to become a net contributor than a Honduran short order cook? Yes. Is a Salvadoran math prodigy more likely to be a net contributor than a Canadian meth cooker? Yes.

    So, in terms of permanent residence or citizenship, we have a right and an obligation, to look first to the effect on American citizens. Then, however, we do have to consider the humanitarian effect. As John Oliver showed so devastatingly on his Sunday show (HBO) our immigration courts are criminal. We now, literally, have children representing themselves in immigration court. No lawyer. Children, like four years old, are made to plead their own case before a harried, indifferent judge.

    We should be very generous in accepting refugees who have a genuine fear of imprisonment or bodily harm from their own governments, or from places where criminal or terrorist gangs are the de facto government. But no, ‘my husband beats me,’ is not a reason to admit an applicant, that should be the job of the country of origin.

    We should increase foreign aid and NGO presence in economically challenged countries like Honduras rather than lure them to jobs in the US. We should be true to our word on DACA, anything else would be contemptible betrayal, not to mention that it would sure look like ethnic cleansing, (which of course is what the Trump voters want.)

    The wall is an idiot’s fantasy. We have the technology available right now, off-the-rack, cheap and easy, to institute real employer verification. That has always been the best way to manage illegal immigrants. We should have verification and serious fines against employers who break the law.




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  13. OzarkHillbilly says:

    I say we accept the 1200 and deport trump. We will come out far ahead in that deal.




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  14. Andre Kenji says:

    In Mexico if you don’t have an ID card and work permits you won’t find jobs anywhere. That’s why they are not paranoid with people entering in the Southern Border, but there is a border there.




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  15. Kathy says:

    @Andre Kenji:

    Yes and no. the law does demand some papers, but it’s not unheard of to be hired without these. Though you’d get in trouble if you don’t pay taxes. There’s also an extensive “informal” sector of the economy where such things don’t matter at all.




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  16. Tyrell says:

    @KM: Well, we certainly should give them the same chance as others who are going through the legal process to enter this country and become citizens.
    Local government budgets are strained and people are not going to increase taxes. So I don’t know if some communities can handle any more.
    I have known people who immigrated here; waiting their turn and going through the system. Our church sponsored some a few years ago who were getting out of Vietnam.
    Is Mexico offering to take any?
    “Buses pouring in here like it is Saturday morning at the theme park!”
    Also – Senator Paul and Senator Graham are putting some offers on the table concerning DACA. But I expect this will just be kicked down the road.




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  17. According to this report from The Washington Post (I know, I know,”Fake News” and all that other Trumpidian nonsense), the so-called caravan has been stopped:

    The Mexican government on Monday evening moved to break up the caravan of migrants traveling through southern Mexico, with immigration officials registering the travelers and suggesting some could receive humanitarian visas while others would have to leave Mexico.

    The caravan, estimated at more than 1,000 migrants, many from Central America, has gained increasing visibility because of tweets by President Trump that have criticized Mexico for not doing more to stop the flow of migrants to the southern border of the United States.

    The bulk of the migrant group — part of an annual caravan intended to raise awareness about the plight of people making the dangerous trek across Mexico toward the United States — is currently in the town of Matias Romero Avendano in the southern state of Oaxaca. A portion of the group rode by train to the neighboring state of Veracruz, according to caravan organizers, local officials and others, but it is unclear whether that group has so far dispersed.

    The larger group, in Oaxaca, was being registered by immigration officials on Monday, according to people traveling with the group. An official from Mexico’s National Institute of Migration told BuzzFeed News that Mexico plans to disband the caravan by Wednesday and that some vulnerable people, such as pregnant women or those with disabilities, would receive humanitarian visas, while the rest will be expected to leave Mexico within 10 days or apply for permission to remain in Mexico for a month.

    So yea, Trump’s spouting nonsense again.




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  18. Kathy says:

    @michael reynolds:

    You should really create a program for temporary workers in the agricultural and hospitality industries. A lot of labor there is seasonal, and likely the biggest magnets for “illegal” immigrants.




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  19. michael reynolds says:

    @Kathy:
    Absolutely. I was taking that as a given contained within what I know to be Schuler’s policy position. We either have agricultural workers or we don’t have agriculture, because native-born Americans sure as hell aren’t doing stoop labor in the blazing sun for minimum or sub-minimum wages.




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  20. SKI says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Yup. In fact, the very phrasing “migrant caravan” is deliberately designed to inflame and distract. As your linked piece notes, this is an annual demonstration by activists.

    The bulk of the migrant group — part of an annual caravan intended to raise awareness about the plight of people making the dangerous trek across Mexico toward the United States

    So why haven’t we heard more about it before? Because we haven’t had an easily manipulable, congenitally stupid, racist coward as POTUS…




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  21. @SKI:

    We have heard about it before. There was a similar “caravan” of Central American migrants several years ago during the Obama Administration. Did people who did make it through Mexico attempted to enter the United States at legal border crossings by claiming asylum. These people were either detained at ICE facilities in the area, sent to other ICE facilities around the country, or (in many cases) almost immediately returned to their countries of origin via chartered flights.




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  22. John430 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: “…especially much more liberal legal immigration from Mexico…”

    Sounds racist. Why not liberalize immigration from China, Serbia, Ireland, Nigeria and other countries from a spin of the wheel. For all of the high-sounding discussions on the plight of illegal immigrants nobody addresses the core issue which is: holding the immigrant nations accountable. You have pooh-poohed my calling several of them out as “failed states” Well, the U.S. State Department has labeled several Mexican states as “Category 4. DO NOT GO”. The Mexican state of Tamaulipas, which borders on our state of Texas, is one. Know who else is Category 4? Syria. If a member of the Honduran Congress has to flee for her life then what other words except “failed state” apply?

    Solution: Have the United Nations declare Mexico a failed state and send in U.N. troops to secure that poor benighted nation. Here in Texas we fully enjoy it’s culture, language, music, food and more. But…it appears the nation of Mexico cannot rule itself. You can throw in Guatemala, Honduras and going even further south, the failed Socialist nation of Venezuela.




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  23. michael reynolds says:

    @John430:

    Sounds racist. Why not liberalize immigration from China, Serbia, Ireland, Nigeria and other countries from a spin of the wheel.

    Are Chinese people lining up to pick strawberries and pull shifts in restaurant kitchens? Does Serbia share a 2000 mile border with us? No? Were you genuinely not capable of answering that question yourself?




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  24. Andy says:

    It’s been true for a very long time that our southern neighbors allow immigrants and refugees to transit as long as they are heading somewhere else (generally the US or Canada). This provides us both benefits and problems.

    – On the benefit side, it’s a filter on our southern border. The reason we generally see terrorists using the broken US Visa system is that it’s not actually easy for them to cross the border via central America. The governments, coyotes and criminal gangs keep a tight lid on that (excepting themselves, of course).

    – On the problematic side, it ensures a continuous flow of people and practically all of them become victims of trafficking groups. And these aren’t just the groups that take people across the US border, there are groups all over Latin America and even groups that facilitate Africans crossing the Atlantic to Latin America in order to journey north.

    Imagine if we did what these countries did – turned a blind eye to allow them de-facto passage as long as they were headed to Canada and didn’t intend to stay. Would that be fair to Canada, much less those immigrants or refugees?




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  25. Andy says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    What should we do about it? Welcome them and take care of them.

    The problem is we can’t take everyone who attempts to come here, much less everyone that would like to.




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  26. CSK says:

    Well, Trump just said that he wants the military to guard the border till the wall is built, so…




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  27. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    It’s perfectly reasonable to prefer immigrants who speak the language and bring education and skills.

    And perhaps smart…if that had been the law in 1885 Dennison’s grandfather wouldn’t have gotten in and we wouldn’t be dealing with the most incompetent Chief Executive in our nations history.
    It’s important to keep in mind that Dennison praised the fraudulent election of Juan Orlando Hernández…you reap what you sow…if our awful leaders are going to prop up 3rd world authoritarians are we, as a country, not morally obligated to deal with the fallout? Honduras is one of the poorest countries in the hemisphere, and the most murderous. With no State Department to speak of the Dennison Administration is ill-equipped to handle this, or anything else, outside of issuing some mendacious tweets. That’s not the fault of the refugees.




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  28. @John430: First, I am not sure why you are directing that quote at me, as that is from James’ post.

    Second, I am guessing you are being disingenuous with your concerns over racism.




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  29. @John430:

    Have the United Nations declare Mexico a failed state and send in U.N. troops to secure that poor benighted nation. Here in Texas we fully enjoy it’s culture, language, music, food and more. But…it appears the nation of Mexico cannot rule itself. You can throw in Guatemala, Honduras and going even further south, the failed Socialist nation of Venezuela.

    Also, this is the kind of “suggestion” that might make people assume you are a serious contributor to the discussion.




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  30. Kathy says:

    @Andy:

    It’s been true for a very long time that our southern neighbors allow immigrants and refugees to transit as long as they are heading somewhere else (generally the US or Canada).

    Except it’s not true. Mexico does impede illegal immigrants from transiting to the US, in exchange for payment from America. I don’t know the details or how things work, but you can look that up. Naturally not all illegals are caught, and probably many people come in here legally and then make their way to the US. And there is human trafficking involved as well (that’s a global problem).




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  31. barbintheboonies says:

    Wow what good sheep you all are just for the feel good likes. You all should be ashamed of yourselves. You haven’t got and independent thought at all on this. Nobody even addresses the economics of this. The stress on the already broke states that are forced to take care of these people. Look around, our government has not even addressed our homeless crisis and you want to add insult to injury.




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  32. drj says:

    @barbintheboonies:

    Nobody even addresses the economics of this. The stress on the already broke states that are forced to take care of these people.

    The US is still the wealthiest nation on earth. If, as you claim, states are broke, that’s wholly due to GOP legislators who are looking out to please their corporate donors with unfunded tax cuts rather than to take care of their citizens.

    The person that’s robbing you blind isn’t some poor Mexican, but rather your GOP Representative and Senator(s).

    These people want you to be pissed off at some random immigrant instead of those who actually do their utmost to increase economic inequality (i.e., themselves). And – just as they intended – you are falling for it.

    So who’s the sheep here?




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  33. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @barbintheboonies:

    Nobody even addresses the economics of this.

    If you knew what you were talking about you would know that immigration is an economic plus, not a minus. The idea that they are a drain on the public coffers is a myth sold to people like you…incapable of independent thought. You may now return to Fox News. I love you white privileged folks…you got yours…screw everyone else. Pull up the ladder behind you…
    Veterans make up 30% of the homeless…maybe we should ship them all out?
    The average homeless family is headed by a single Afro-American female.
    Hispanic homelessness pretty much tracks the general population…~10%. Most of them are afraid to seek out help because of the threat of deportation.




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  34. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @barbintheboonies: You don’t have a clue about why immigrants come here in the first place, do you?




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  35. grumpy realist says:

    @John430: Because people can easily get here from Mexico by foot. Not so easy from Nigeria.

    (On the other hand, supposedly 40% of illegal immigration comes from “tourists” who overstay their visas. Think you can do something about that?)




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  36. @grumpy realist:

    (On the other hand, supposedly 40% of illegal immigration comes from “tourists” who overstay their visas. Think you can do something about that?)

    In fact, at least one study indicates that in the last several years that visa overstayers account for more than half of new undocumented persons.

    So, you know, Build. That. Wall!




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  37. John430 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Apologies. Grabbed the wrong REPLY post.




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  38. Sleeping Dog says:

    Frankly, let the immigrants come, with reasonable controls. The US birthrate has dropped below replacement level. If we’re to have a robust economy in the middle third of the 21st century we need a large cohort of younger workers. That is even with robots and AI doing many low skill (and some high) jobs.

    It is that or we become Japan.




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  39. Guarneri says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Until the last paragraph, bravo. But thrusting law enforcement on businesses?Government incompetance. Here in S Florida there are mills that produce documentation. Because my brother in law works in agribusiness I’ve seen them. Good luck detecting the fraudulent ones. And then wait for the swarms of zealot lawyers if you guess wrong. Enforce standards, enforce borders. And stop the bleeding heart crap as if every immigrant was a saint or the next Thomas Edison.




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  40. James Joyner says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: The inscription on the Statue of Liberty, given to us by France on our 100th birthday, isn’t a contract. I don’t think we’re obligated to take everybody from everywhere for evermore.

    @KM: I’m responding to the Reuters report, not Trump, vis-a-vis “caravans.” I think people fleeing Honduras have a right to seek asylum. I don’t think they have a right to do it in countries they don’t border.

    @James Pearce: I think we need immigrants. I just think we should get to choose them given that we can’t reasonably take everyone who would like to come here.

    @Steven L. Taylor: Fair enough. I’m just going by the Reuters report. But it certainly sounds like there’s a willful policy in Mexico to abet their continued migration to the US.

    @Doug Mataconis: Good news if true. Again, I’m not responding to Trump but to the report from Reuters, a high-quality media source.

    @michael reynolds: Right. I think our immigration laws should comport with our actual policy: we want, as a society, a lot of Mexicans to come here to work. So we should make it easy for them to do so above-board but with a system that allows for some sort of background checks. And with some sort of path to citizenship for those who wish to make their permanent homes here.

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl: Again, I don’t think we’re obligated as a society to hew to our policies of 1885 indefinitely if we’ve decided that our needs have changed.

    @Sleeping Dog: But what are the “reasonable controls”? Given that more people want to come here than we can reasonably absorb, what should be the criteria?




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  41. steve says:

    Driving home they released more details about the caravan. Apparently they were all headed to Washington DC to take advantage of the $50 per night stays in luxury surroundings. Someone finally told them this was only available to members of the Trump administration so they turned around and went back.

    Steve




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  42. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    @Kathy:

    There’s also an extensive “informal” sector of the economy where such things don’t matter at all.

    The so called informal sector of the economy is already pretty tough for the natives, it’s even more horrible for foreigners without documentation. That’s why most of them decide to go north.




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  43. An Interested Party says:

    …Donald Trump is not to blame.

    Is your glorious leader to blame for anything? Anything at all?

    But thrusting law enforcement on businesses?Government incompetence.

    So typical…let us make excuses for and not penalize those who exploit immigrants for profit…no, no, we certainly don’t want to disturb these oppressed greedy people…

    Meanwhile, Darryl mentioned this earlier, but it can’t be stressed enough…if we don’t want hordes of people from certain countries trying to get into our country, perhaps we shouldn’t help to make conditions in those countries so bad that those people feel a compelling need to leave their homes in the first place…




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  44. Sleeping Dog says:

    @James Joyner:
    James, I’ll leave the determination of what those ‘reasonable controls’ are to those far more versed in the nuances of the needs of our manpower in our economy and immigration. (I’m kind of old fashion, in that I believe expertise is a virtue.) Along with a robust political debate, but I’d ere on having the controls too loose.




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  45. DrDaveT says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    There was a similar “caravan” of Central American migrants several years ago during the Obama Administration.

    Um, which part of ‘annual’ did you find hard to parse?




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  46. DrDaveT says:

    @James Joyner:

    we can’t reasonably take everyone who would like to come here

    So, you and Doug have both asserted this now. Do you have actual evidence that this is true? Quantitative models of what the impact on the economy and the Treasury would be?




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  47. Just 'nutha... says:

    @MBunge: Stay on that high road, man! MAWA!




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  48. drj says:

    @James Joyner:

    I think people fleeing Honduras have a right to seek asylum. I don’t think they have a right to do it in countries they don’t border.

    Regardless of what you think, they actually do have that legal right.

    It’s what the US signed up for, back when it ratified the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees.




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  49. James Joyner says:

    @DrDaveT: Even UNHCR is clear that states may determine how many refugees to take in.

    @drj: Refugees who make it to our borders have a right to seek asylum. There’s decidedly not a right to choose where you will be granted asylum. Refugee status is not a golden ticket.




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  50. drj says:

    @James Joyner:

    Refugees who make it to our borders have a right to seek asylum.

    Indeed.

    Moreover, Mexico is in no way obligated to stop potential asylum seekers who are legally present in that country from reaching the US border.

    There’s decidedly not a right to choose where you will be granted asylum.

    I never claimed such a thing, did I?




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  51. michael reynolds says:

    @Guarneri:

    But thrusting law enforcement on businesses?

    Yeah, it’s just so darned complicated. My oh, my, how could we possibly make a verification system work? It’s hard! Not like, oh, credit cards.

    Anyone needing an example of Republican b.s. on immigration, look no further. American business LOVES illegals, and will do nothing voluntarily to change. A Republican would line the border with troops and gun down people in the desert rather than actually solve the problem by placing a burden on rich aszholes like Guarneri. Hypocrites.




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  52. Barry says:

    James: “More than 1200…”

    I think that the correct term is ‘a drop in a bucket’.




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  53. James Joyner says:

    @Barry: That was noted in the OP. But, partly, it’s a drop in the bucket because the Mexican government is abetting their travel to the United States’ border. If they had to stay in Mexico, they’d likely not be migrating and Mexico would be reacting much differently.




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  54. @James Joyner:

    it’s a drop in the bucket because the Mexican government is abetting their travel to the United States’ border

    To that point, from an interview I came across today with Eric Olson, deputy director of the Latin American Program at the Wilson Center:

    “There seems to be this misimpression that Mexico is not only doing nothing, but almost encouraging people to come and flow into the United States. Nothing could be further from the truth. Look at, in January and February of this year, Mexico detained and deported over 15,000 Central Americans. In 2015, Mexico deported more Central Americans than the United States did. So to say that Mexico is ignoring this problem or, you know, sitting around with its arms crossed and encouraging people in the United States does not match with the facts on the ground. There is an aggressive policy in Mexico to deal with this problem.”




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  55. @michael reynolds: Indeed. If one is not willing to sic law enforcement on those who employ the undocumented, forget about a serious solution.




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  56. James Joyner says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Very interesting. Again, I’m relying on the Reuters report for my understanding of what’s happening here. There are clearly some factual errors in it.




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  57. @James Joyner: That’s fair, of course. I guess I didn’t fully read the Reuters story in quite the way you did (but I also did not read the entire piece).




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  58. @James Joyner: @Steven L. Taylor: Also, part of it is interpretation. If Mexico allows some of these migrants to stay in Mexico with 20 or 30 day visas, is that “aiding and abetting”? I am not sure, but figure it depends on the degree to which the person in question are entitled to that visa under Mexican law regardless of what their intentions might be vis-a-vis the US.




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  59. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    @James Joyner:

    That was noted in the OP. But, partly, it’s a drop in the bucket because the Mexican government is abetting their travel to the United States’ border.

    It’s not a drop in the bucket. In Latin America no country has a Federal jurisdiction hunting “illegal immigrants” because anyone without proper documentation won’t find any real work. In the United States since there is no National ID and Labor Laws are a joke there are lots of jobs for people that have no documents at all.

    It’s not Mexico’s problem that there is no mechanism to block people without documentation from getting jobs north of the border. And in fact, Mexico is an excellent neighbor, and that was never recognized in the United States.




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  60. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Mexico must create somekind of slave patrols to hunt these people because there is a country in the North that allows people without documents to easily get work.




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  61. @Andre Kenji de Sousa:

    Mexico must create somekind of slave patrols to hunt these people

    I think am I missing your meaning here.




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  62. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: If the United States is a magnet for unauthorized immigration that’s not Mexico’s problem, and people should not demand that Mexico hunt down these people.




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  63. @Andre Kenji de Sousa: I don’t disagree with that.




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  64. DrDaveT says:

    @James Joyner:

    Even UNHCR is clear that states may determine how many refugees to take in.

    OK, but what does that have to do with my question? You have asserted that we mustn’t take in all of the people who want to come here; that would be unreasonable. I’m just wondering what you’re basing that statement on, other than knee-jerk.

    Certainly at the margin illegal immigrants are more likely to be employed and more likely to be law-abiding than natives; this is well-documented. Where is the tipping point? Or is that not what you’re actually afraid of?




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