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2018-OCT to 2019-FEB

The "Caravan of Despair:"
Central American Migrants
Traveling North to the U.S.

Part 26 of "Conflicts During
President Trump's Administration"

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This topic is continued here from the previous essay.

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2018-NOV-03: Caravans were headed North towards the U.S. They are composed either of hopeful migrants -- or vicious terrorists; sources differ:

A group of almost 4,000 migrants were making their way on foot North through Mexico towards the U.S. As of NOV-03, they were still about 800 miles from the border. Three smaller caravans are following the main one. Most are made up of families who originated in Honduras and Guatemala. They are seeking safety, security, human rights, and economic opportunity which are in very short supply in their countries of origin. The cover of the NOV-04 edition of The Catholic Register features a photograph of the group titled: "Caravan of despair."

cover of Catholic Register
NOV-04 print edition

The group was not expected to reach the border until late in 2018-NOV.

Zachary Cohen et al., writing for CNN Politics, said that the migrants are planning "to follow legal procedures and apply for asylum" at the border. 1

In a classic example of Fake News, some anti-semitic information sources have suggested that the group includes many heavily armed terrorists -- inspired and funded by Jewish groups -- trying to invade the U.S. in order to kill Americans.

A U.S. citizen, Robert Bowers, 46, armed with an AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle and three handguns, seems to have been inspired by this Fake News. He allegedly entered the The Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA just before 10:00 hrs, while services were in progress. He shouted "All Jews must die."He then executed 11 worshipers, apparently at random. This was the worst anti-semitic attack in U.S. history -- to date.

President Trump ordered an additional 5,200 troops to reinforce the existing 2,000 troops at the US-Mexico border before the first caravan arrives. He indicated that 10,000 to 15,000 troops may eventually be sent. The move is part of "Operation Faithful Patriot," and will see the military backing-up customs agents at ports of entry in Arizona, California, and Texas. However, the troops will be only of limited effect, because U.S. law prohibits the troops from physically detaining refugees at the border.

President Trump tweeted:

"Our military is being mobilized at the Southern Border. Many more troops coming. We will NOT let these Caravans, which are also made up of some very bad thugs and gang members, into the U.S. Our Border is sacred, [they] must come in legally. TURN AROUND!"

and also:

"This is an invasion of our Country and our Military is waiting for you!" 2

However, President Trump's request, which was routed through the Department of Homeland Security, was rejected. The Pentagon viewed the assignment as a law enforcement activity -- a type of crowd and traffic control -- which is beyond the military's jurisdiction. However, the Pentagon did approve a request for air and logistic support, medical personnel, and engineers.

Will Fischer, a former Marine who now works for VoteVets, a progressive veteran's organization, said:

"Donald Trump thinks unarmed people who are fleeing horrors and are still [almost] 1,000 miles away are a national security threat a week before election day. I don't think so. It's a political ploy to blow upon the embers of racism and nativism, and he is using the military again as a political prop to advance his own agenda." 1

On a positive note, the military will have medical personnel available who may help the migrants who will need medical help after such a long walk on foot.

Gil Kerlikowske, a former Customs and Border Protection chief, said that Trump’s decision is:

"... a misuse of active duty military. To say this isn’t a political stunt is misleading the public."

David Lapan, a former Homeland Security spokesman for the Trump administration and a former Marine, said:

"A military strained by 17 years of war and sequestration doesn't need this. Service members who have repeatedly spent long periods of time away from home don't need this. And the US doesn't need its military to 'defend' against a group of unarmed migrants, including many women & kids." 1

Webmaster's comment:

One can only hope that there are no other individuals in the U.S. with access to weapons who also think as Bowers does. The actions and comments by President Trump might be sufficient to reinforce the anti-semitic Fake News circulating about the caravan and push such individuals over the edge, so that they also believe that the U.S. is under an attack, organized by Jews. Such a person might well decide to follow Bowers, to "Screw the optics" and "go in."

Dara Lind, writing for Vox.com, explains:

"It is completely legal for anyone on US soil to seek asylum, regardless of whether or not they have papers. People who present themselves for asylum at a port of entry -- an official border crossing -- break no US law. People who cross between ports of entry are committing a federal misdemeanor. [However, even in those cases] the US government is still required to allow them to pursue an asylum claim." 2

Rick Barton, a past assistant U.S. Secretary of State and a deputy high commissioner for the UN Refugee Agency, suggested:

"... it is high time for the Trump administration to move from crisis mode to pro-active planning.

To begin, Washington must acknowledge the gang war that is engulfing Central America. The region sees some of the highest homicide rates in the world, and many of those fleeing their homes are driven north by this violence. They have a 'well-founded fear of persecution' and thus qualify as refugees. Washington must give them the protections and rights of the international agreements it helped create. ..."

"In addition to treating migrants with dignity, the United States must address the root cause of the migration: the violence. One way is to encourage Central American governments to broker more peace deals between rival gangs. ..."

"There are so many good options. Combining American ingenuity with local initiatives, and enforcing the rule of law, will reduce violence in the region. That should spare us more chaos and discord within our country." 3

President Trump has said that he plans to sign an executive order that could cause the detention of migrants, and ban any person who illegally crosses the border from claiming asylum. The Associated Press suggests that "... both propositions are legally dubious." 4 Trump also said that he has told the military that if migrants throw rocks at the soldiers that they should react as though the rocks were "rifles."

Webmaster's comment:

I think that the President means bullets, not rifles. People do not throw rifles much. They are too heavy.

Selvin Maldonado, 25, a member of a caravan who left his home in Copan, Honduras said that:

"What Trump said is stupid. I don’t want to attack police. ... my [main] concern is my son." 4

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This topic continues in the next essay

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Zachary Cohen et al., "Veterans slam Trump for border 'stunt'," CNN Politics, 2018-OCT-31, at: https://www.cnn.com/
  2. Alex Ward, "The US is sending 5,000 troops to the border. Here’s what they can and can’t do." Vox.com. 2018-OCT-31, at: https://www.vox.com/
  3. Rick Barton, "This is what Trump should do about the migrant caravan," Washington Post, 2018-NOV-19, at: https://www.washingtonpost.
  4. "Caravan migrants to Trump: ‘We are not killers’," The Globe and Mail, 2018-NOV-03, at: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/
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Copyright Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Author: B.A. Robinson
Originally posted on: 2018-OCT-28
Last updated on 2019-FEB-18

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