“You shall love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” – Deuteronomy 10:19
On Saturday, Oct. 14th a migrant caravan departed from San Pedro Sula, Honduras. Since then, it has been moving through Guatemala and into Mexico, heading for the United States. The origins of the caravan are unknown,* as are the exact numbers of individuals on the caravan, which may include smaller groups and not just one large caravan. The media has reported that the groups include families, women and children.
Write to the President to tell him to de-escalate conflict and assure due process and human rights to the people who are traveling in the migrant caravan.
At the root of this migration seems to be the pervasive violence and repression of Honduran people by security forces in Honduras, fueled by U.S. foreign policy, which last year recognized the government of President Juan Orlando Hernandez, despite highly questionable elections, evidence of corruption, and human rights violations. People fleeing violence in their home countries have a right to seek asylum in a place where they feel safe and should not be detained or turned away at the border. Nor should their plight be used as a political tool to stoke fear or partisan rhetoric in advance of the midterm elections.
The Caravan of migrants does not represent a huge influx of individuals arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border, nor does it represent a crisis, an onslaught, an army, or an “assault,” to use President Trump’s word. Media outlets are sensationalizing a movement of people who are legitimately seeking safety and better lives for their families. The size of the Caravan is not even very significant when compared with the overall volume of migration across the Southern U.S.-Mexico border, despite the fact that southwest border crossings for FY18 are lower than FY13, FY14 and FY16 for the same period to date. Monthly border crossings for FY17 represented a record low since the 1970s.
In a moment of extreme need, now is not the time to escalate tensions at the border or politicize a group of people who are seeking help. Write to the President today.
To learn about the Migrant Caravan, visit this blog post.
*After original publication of this post, the Rev. Dori Kay Hjalmarson, Presbyterian Mission Coworker, provided this clarification about the origins of the group of asylum-seekers: “The caravan’s origin’s aren’t unknown. They started with a flyer that circulated on Facebook and WhatsApp in Honduras in early October, promoted by politicians who oppose the current government. One of the organizers, Bartolo Fuentes, was arrested and deported from Guatemala, according to media sources.
“Whether Fuentes or other politicians were the originators of the plan initially, that’s not certain, but they certainly were the primary promoters and early adopters. They’ve done it before, with a caravan in April, and other times.