How To Deal With Thousands of Immigrants at Once

Lucian Cosson, Staff Writer

Right now 4,000 to 5,000 migrants from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador are slowly traveling across Mexico from their homes to the United States. Many of the migrants are fleeing violence, persecution or poverty in their home countries and are seeking asylum in the United States.The journey to the U.S. is also dangerous and people travel in groups as protection from criminal gangs and cartels. As the thousands of migrants make their way across Central America towards the U.S., thousands of U.S. soldiers have been ordered to move to the southern border. They have been given orders from president Trump to fight back if immigrants throw stones and suggested that they would shoot at the immigrants because there is not much difference between a stone or a gun. The president also stated that they would be building tent cities at the border for the migrants and would not let anyone into the country. In addition, Trump threatened to cut funding and foreign aid to the countries that had allowed the caravan to pass through. These actions are immoral and only exacerbate the issue of dealing with thousands of new immigrants at one time.

One of the biggest problems with this event is the amount of troops deployed to the border. President Trump publicly announced that he would send up to 15,000 troops to the border. This is more than the amount of troops needed, as there are not enough jobs that need to be done to effectively use 15,000 troops. Currently, the 160 soldiers sent so far have worked on putting up a chain link fence with barbed wire across the Texas portion of the border. This decision is extremely inefficient as it wastes both active duty soldiers and an estimated cost of over 200 million dollars for all of Trump’s military deployment. In addition, the president’s public order to tell troops to violently respond to immigrants is also problematic. Even if some of the migrants at the border do become aggressive and start throwing rocks, like at the Mexican border, responding by shooting is clearly not the correct response and would only make matters more difficult and escalate tensions along with being extremely immoral. However, the troops can not actually apprehend undocumented immigrants, let alone shoot at them, unless in self-defense which poses the question as to why Trump instructed troops to do this, and why he would have done it publicly. Trump was likely motivated by political reasons and is using this issue, in part, to gain political support and rally republicans before the midterm elections. Important issues like these should not have decisions so strongly influenced by politics, but decisions should take into account the interests of the entire country and in this case, the people directly affected: the migrants.

In addition to inflammatory and efficient deployment of the military, The U.S. is also creating more problems for itself by planning on letting no immigrants into the country at all and placing the asylum seekers in tent cities along the border. While it is good that the U.S. plans to accept asylum seekers, as required by international law, it is problematic that the asylum seekers are expected to wait in tent cities until their trial takes place. Casses in immigration court can often take a very long time, sometimes years. With the amount of migrants expected to arrive at once, wait times will be much longer. The extreme plan to deny all immigrants will likely also cause unrest amongst the caravan because once they arrive at the U.S. border they will have traveled about thousands of miles and endured a great amount of hardship to make it to the U.S..It is very unlikely that these immigrants will just turn away if denied entry after all they have been through, unless Mexico provides more support for the caravan. Mexico has already offered many migrants temporary work and places for people to stay as long as they remain in southern Mexico. Denying all the immigrants to the U.S. may lead to violence as it did when migrants attacked guards at the Mexican Honduras border. While the U.S. certainly can not process thousands of immigrants and provide for their needs at one time, it is also a bad idea to deny all immigrants. The U.S. should work with Mexico to create a plan to help the caravan together instead of solely relying on Mexico to execute a well thought out plan while the U.S. turns to illogical militancy.

Lastly, the plan to reduce or completely stop funding to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, where the caravans are coming from does not do anything to actually stop the caravans from coming or help the caravans, and will actually do the opposite. The caravans will keep coming to the U.S. regardless of whether their home countries get foreign aid, and will probably only give migrants more incentive to continue on to the U.S. knowing that the situation in their home countries is unlikely to improve. The condition of the migrants’ homes are dire, the main problem being poverty. Two in every three Hondurans currently live in poverty and in impoverished rural areas one in five live on less than $1.90 a day. This extreme poverty is bad enough to motivate people to leave home in search of a better life, but because of the poor economic state and unstable government, gang violence has become prevalent as it motivates more people to leave home for their own safety. Migrants from El Salvador and Guatemala leave behind similarly dismal conditions and if we cut funding to these countries the situation will only become worse. We need to increase the amount of aid being given to these countries from a purely humanitarian perspective and in addition this will decrease the amount of caravans of migrants traveling to Mexico and the U.S..