Honduran Migrant Caravan Poses Security Issue for Mexico

Violence, job searching, and the hopes of building a better life have motivated thousands of Honduran immigrants to travel to the United States, according to Al Jazeera. A caravan numbering some 4,000 people is rapidly approaching the United States-Mexico border and it is continuing onward despite Mexico’s efforts to deter them. In advance of the massive migrant group’s arrival, President Donald Trump has threatened to shut the border down if the migrants enter on to American soil.

According to CNN, President Trump said: “…we’re calling up the military, not the guard, we’re calling up the military and we’re going to have the military stationed…They’re not coming into this country. They might as well turn back.”

But the people seem to have more to hope for from a journey to America than they have to fear of the massive challenge that President Trump’s threat poses. According to one immigrant interviewed by Al Jazeera, the situation in Honduras has become intolerable. “People can’t file reports with authorities because, a lot of the time, authorities and the government itself are mixed up in a lot of things.”

National Geographic depicts Honduras as a place where the police are worse than the gangs—where children grow up on the streets alone until gangs take them in, or where the gangs themselves are the only protection against police brutality, despite the life of violence and crime they impose on other members of society. For many, living in Honduras has become something less than life—a horrendous struggle to survive, with no assurance of what fresh horror the next day will bring.

With this grim reality in view, some of the youngest citizens of Honduras have begun to make the journey to America while they still can. According to NBC, the majority of the 4000 migrants are children, who would typically be eligible for special treatment under U.S. immigration laws. However, it is this fact which, NBC says, has made people against immigration anxious. For years, Hondurans have turned to the U.S. to break away from the cycle of violence and death that plagues their nation. But this time, the sheer number of youths – in addition to their parents and the other migrants in the caravan-seem all too imposing to some Americans who fear a rise in crime and drop in employment opportunities if the migrants are allowed on U.S. soil. In order to further stymie the travelers’ progress, President Trump has threatened to cut aid to Guatemala and Honduras if they do not stop the outflow of migrants. 

The threats have done little to halt the migrants that have already left Honduras. Most recently, the caravan has made it as far as Mexico, which CNN claims has requested the assistance of the United Nations to process the requests of migrants seeking refugee status. The country has stated that they would allow the migrants into Mexico provided that they have adequate documentation, and has urged that the migrants respect their laws. However, Friday, October 19th, a group from the caravan confronted Mexican police officers after having passed a bridge leading into the country. During the confrontation, an “undetermined” number of migrants were injured, as well as several officers, according to CNN. 

Mexico seems to be taking the path which best assures public safety by urging adherence to the law and order among the migrants, but the militarism with which the caravan is being met runs the risk of escalating an already tense situation. On the other hand, if the United Nations is willing to assist Mexico with the process, it might also consider offering its aid to the United States. Some anti-immigration sentiments might not be so determined to absolutely refuse the migrants’ entry if they knew they could count on the support of the UN to process and house the refugees.