Hawk's Claw

The Migrant Caravan

Honduran+migrants+take+part+in+a+caravan+heading+to+the+US%2C+on+the+road+linking+Ciudad+Hidalgo+and+Tapachula%2C+Chiapas+state%2C+Mexico%2C+on+October+21%2C+2018.+-+Thousands+of+Honduran+migrants+resumed+their+march+toward+the+United+States+on+Sunday+from+the+southern+Mexican+city+of+Ciudad+Hidalgo%2C+AFP+journalists+at+the+scene+said.+%28Photo+by+Pedro+Pardo+%2F+AFP%29++++++++%28Photo+credit+should+read+PEDRO+PARDO%2FAFP%2FGetty+Images%29
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The Migrant Caravan

Honduran migrants take part in a caravan heading to the US, on the road linking Ciudad Hidalgo and Tapachula, Chiapas state, Mexico, on October 21, 2018. - Thousands of Honduran migrants resumed their march toward the United States on Sunday from the southern Mexican city of Ciudad Hidalgo, AFP journalists at the scene said. (Photo by Pedro Pardo / AFP)        (Photo credit should read PEDRO PARDO/AFP/Getty Images)

Honduran migrants take part in a caravan heading to the US, on the road linking Ciudad Hidalgo and Tapachula, Chiapas state, Mexico, on October 21, 2018. - Thousands of Honduran migrants resumed their march toward the United States on Sunday from the southern Mexican city of Ciudad Hidalgo, AFP journalists at the scene said. (Photo by Pedro Pardo / AFP) (Photo credit should read PEDRO PARDO/AFP/Getty Images)

AFP/Getty Images

Honduran migrants take part in a caravan heading to the US, on the road linking Ciudad Hidalgo and Tapachula, Chiapas state, Mexico, on October 21, 2018. - Thousands of Honduran migrants resumed their march toward the United States on Sunday from the southern Mexican city of Ciudad Hidalgo, AFP journalists at the scene said. (Photo by Pedro Pardo / AFP) (Photo credit should read PEDRO PARDO/AFP/Getty Images)

AFP/Getty Images

AFP/Getty Images

Honduran migrants take part in a caravan heading to the US, on the road linking Ciudad Hidalgo and Tapachula, Chiapas state, Mexico, on October 21, 2018. - Thousands of Honduran migrants resumed their march toward the United States on Sunday from the southern Mexican city of Ciudad Hidalgo, AFP journalists at the scene said. (Photo by Pedro Pardo / AFP) (Photo credit should read PEDRO PARDO/AFP/Getty Images)

Catherine Kowal Safron, Editor-in-chief

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Lately, the Central American migrant caravans have been a hot topic in both domestic and international news. However, before diving into the current situation with the migrant caravans, it is important to note their history. Although some small self-organized migrant caravans existed in 2010, they did not receive any significant media attention. However, the first large Central American migrant caravan (the Holy Week Caravan) which began in March, 2018 was heavily reported on. Seeking to flee from gang violence, approximately 700 migrants (80% of them from Honduras) undertook a long journey north towards Tapachula, a city in Mexico near the Guatemalan border, towards the United States. Eventually, the migrants were able to reach their destination after arriving at Friendship Park at the Mexico-United States border in Tijuana. 11 of the migrants were charged with crossing the border illegally.

Today, we are seeing a very similar event play out on a much larger scale. On October 12th, 2018, approximately 160 migrants from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador gathered at San Pedro Sula, the second largest city in Honduras, to plan their journey to the United States. Much like their counterpart’s intentions, the goals of the migrants of the current caravan are to flee violence, poverty, and political repression in their respective countries. Additionally, many seek higher wages and to join relatives who are already settled in the United States. Despite warnings by U.S. officials that anyone found entering the country illegally will face criminal charges, many migrants hope to seek asylum in the U.S. Although the caravan initially started with a mere 160 participants, as they passed through Guatemala and El Salvador, it quickly grew in numbers and has since soared past 7,000 participants. The migrants reached Tijuana on November 13th, 2018 and have been staying in temporary shelters ever since.

The United State’s reaction towards the migrants has been far from welcoming. Touting a negative attitude towards immigration in general, President Trump labeled the caravan as “an invasion.” As a result, he deployed close to 5,800 troops to the United States-Mexico border in an attempt to stop the migrants from entering the United States, and said that lethal force would be used on rock-throwing migrants. Although President Trump issued an order that prevented the possibility of asylum to immigrants crossing the southern border illegally, the order has since been halted by a federal judge. In addition, U.S. authorities briefly closed the San Ysidro entry in order to restrict further border crossing.

Depending on their circumstances, some migrants have special protections under international law. Under international law, the United States is legally obligated to hear asylum claims from migrants if they say that they fear violence in their home countries. Additionally, if this is the case, those migrants are considered to be refugees. However, other migrants do not enjoy the same protections. Those who are simply seeking a better quality of life do not qualify as refugees and therefore do not have the same protections as those fleeing persecution and violence.

Despite this, instead of going to the United States, there is an alternative for the migrants, that being to stay in Mexico. Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto said that the migrants would be given jobs so long as they complied with Mexican laws. In addition, many migrants turned around and went back to their places of origin. It is approximated that 7,000 Hondurans have done this.

Although the reaction in the United States towards the migrants has been largely hostile, the migrants have encountered support along their journey in various Mexican towns. Many people offered the migrants food, shelter, water, and clothing. However, as the migrants travelled further and further towards Tijuana, they began to encounter a lot of backlash, with a anti-migrant protestors demonstrating against “the invasion”.

While the crisis is still at a standstill, it will be interesting to see what happens in the coming weeks as well as what President Trump and other government officials decide to do. Especially with the recent midterm elections, it will be intriguing to find out whether any newly elected officials will take action, whether that be in favor of the migrants or against them.

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