It’s not a migrant crisis, it’s a humanitarian one


MT2C First Floor

The Benito Juárez sports complex in TJ, migrant caravan “headquarters” Photo Credits: MCT Campus

Saida Hassan, Staff Writer

The recent midterm elections saw President Trump employ aggressive campaigning techniques to get people to vote Republican, using the migrant caravan as political fodder behind that. This migrant caravan has been traveling for several months and has swollen to the enormous size of 7,000 people, according to estimates from BBC News report.

Right before the elections, the president’s increasingly xenophobic rhetoric depicted the caravan in a negative light. An article from The Independent quoted Trump speaking at a campaign rally: “You got some bad people in those groups. You got some tough people in those groups. And I’ll tell you what — this country doesn’t want them. OK? We don’t want them.”

As usual, the president used unverified facts to nail his point home, without any evidence to back up the veracity of his claims. Another BBC article paraphrased a tweet of his “‘unknown Middle Easterners were ‘mixed in’ with the caravan heading north.”

You get the picture. Trump whipped his political base into a frenzy by essentially making stopping the caravan a matter of national safety.

Although his political base might forever be committed to MAGA, it’s doubtful Trump is. As soon as the elections finished, Trump didn’t double down and emphasize “the horrors” of the caravan as much as beforehand; actually, until about Nov. 20, the president seems to have all but forgotten about the caravan that he was dead set on demonizing before.

On Sunday, members of the highly politicized migrant caravan were tear gassed at the San Ysidro port opening of the U.S.-Mexico border. U.S. Customs and Border Protection claimed that those migrants had thrown rocks and glass at them and stated the tear gas was to “protect themselves and to protect the border,” according to an NPR article.

It is really justified, though? Using fear-mongering tactics is hardly a new political weapon. On his presidential campaign trail, Trump’s Twitter feed repeatedly mentioned “building a wall” that “Mexico’s going to pay for.” His razor sharp focus on immigration during 2016 resonated with his supporters so strongly that the chant “Build the wall” is now synonymous with the Trump presidency. Now, he’s doing the same thing, equating the caravan to a “full on invasion.”

The difference between the illegal immigrants Trump vilified during his presidential campaign and the ones tear gassed on Sunday is nothing.

Even if Trump supporters were to argue it’s not fear mongering, there is no denying the facts that that rhetoric has led to unnecessary military deployment. That same NPR article details how Trump has sent nearly 6,000 U.S. troops, including military engineers and military police, to the border to support CBP.  Keep in mind that he sent those troops when the caravan was still roughly 1,000 miles from the U.S. border and still in Honduras. Those same troops were also sent over the Thanksgiving holiday, when they should have been home with their families. Always one with the military huh, Trump?

Whether or not you agree with labeling the caravan as “violent,” everyone is given the chance to apply for asylum, regardless of their immigration status; that is according to international and U.S. law, as the President should know. A New York Times article published on Nov. 20 revealed that a federal judge ordered the Trump administration to resume accepting asylum claims from migrants no matter where or how they entered the country. It is possible that Sunday’s event could have been averted if Trump had given more resources to immigration services that are now backlogged, dealing with thousands of applications. But he didn’t. He was too busy tweeting about the “unknown Middle Easterners” hiding in the caravan.