Frontera Fund News Trump Watch

The Truth Behind Trump’s “Caravan of Immigrants” Fear-Mongering

Photo from Pueblo Sin Fronteras
Photo from Pueblo Sin Fronteras

Fox News may be the Trump administration’s puppet, but the network that one of its own contributors recently called a “propaganda machine” also pulls the President’s puppet strings. 

On Easter morning, April 1, Fox & Friends reported that a “caravan of immigrants” was heading through Mexico to the U.S. border. They called the group of 1,200 to 1,500 people a “small migrant army marching toward the United States.”

In typical fashion, in less than an hour, Trump fired off false, fear-mongering tweets that continued for the next few days and may eventually shape national policy:

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Those are just three of many Trump-rant tweets on the topic.

On April 3, Trump announced he would send the military to guard the border from caravans and other immigrants. 

The reality of the caravan is far less frightening – for everyone except the participants in the caravan.

It was organized by a U.S.-based advocacy group called Pueblo Sin Fronteras, which has hosted several such caravans since its founding in 2010, though this is the first time they’ve gotten such widespread attention.

The caravan has several goals: to spotlight the hazards of fleeing Central American violence, to provide migrants safety in numbers during a journey beset with drug cartel and gang attacks, and to stand up for migrants’ and refugees’ rights. 

“This caravan follows a tradition that has been taking place for many years to highlight the right of freedom of mobility and individuals’ rights to seek international protection,” announced the Latin America Working Group (LAWG) in a press release this week. “It does not represent a massive influx of people or a security threat – border crossings are at record lows.”

This year, most of the migrants on the caravan are from Honduras. Some intended only to get safely into Mexico. Some intended to present themselves to the authorities at the U.S. border and request asylum, which, despite how Fox News portrays it, is actually the proper way to seek asylum in the U.S. And some intended to break off from the group and attempt to cross illegally.

The United States should have cut off all military aid to Honduras due to the brutal killings of people by Honduran security forces. –Lisa Haugaard, LAWG

Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala are plagued by gang violence, high murder rates and government violence. The LAWG stated that, “The latest caravan organized by Pueblo Sin Fronteras is a reflection of these conditions fueling forced displacement from the Northern Triangle countries of Central America, including the brutal repression facing citizens in Honduras following last year’s fraudulent elections.”

The LAWG is referring to the November 2017 re-election of Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez, in an election that was widely deemed rigged. Despite knowing this, the United States government backed Hernandez, who has been a U.S. ally. The U.S. has a history of installing and supporting Central American dictators and then blocking people fleeing those brutal governments from seeking asylum in the U.S.

Since the “election,” the country has erupted in more than 1,000 protests. Twenty-two people, mostly protesters, have been killed by Honduran security forces.

“The United States should have cut off all military aid to Honduras due to the brutal killings of people by Honduran security forces…,” said Lisa Haugaard, executive director of LAWG, in a press release. “What President Trump should not do is threaten to cut all of Honduras’ aid because he wants the Honduran government to illegally block people from fleeing the country due to violence and political repression.”

On April 3, the Los Angeles Times  reported that the caravan was stopping in Oaxaca state, Mexico, while they negotiate with Mexican authorities. Hundreds of the migrants are applying for transit visas to allow them to continue traveling toward the U.S. border, or humanitarian visas to allow them to stay and work in Mexico.

The following day, Reuters  reported that the caravan would be stopping in Mexico City. Irineo Mujica, director of Pueblo Sin Fronteras, said the group was halting because they did not want to put children on “La Bestia,” the freight trains on which numerous migrants are killed or severely injured. Already, many of the children are suffering from diarrhea, vomiting, respiratory problems and dehydration – a result of the grueling journey.

Naturally, Trump gave credit to himself and to Mexico’s immigration laws, which he characterizes as much stronger than the United States’ “dumb” and “weak” laws:

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