Mexico helps migrant caravan on the way to the US border
Migrant caravans often disperse during their migration through Mexico, but many of their members still end up at the border.
Immigrants wait for the border line in Huixtla, Chiapas, Mexico, June 8, 2022. (Photo by Jacob Garcia/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
The largest migrant caravan so far this year has mostly dissipated, but that doesn’t mean thousands more migrants aren’t heading to the US-Mexico border.
Members of the migrant caravan first gathered in the town of Tapachula on the Mexican side of the Mexico-Guatemalan border and made their way to the United States in the second week of June. While the caravan formed in and departed from a Mexican city, the bulk of the caravan’s members were from Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua. There were also Haitians, Salvadorans, Hondurans and Guatemalans. People from India, Bangladesh and some African countries were also spotted in the ranks of the caravan.
The caravan peaked at around 11,000 members. That organizer of the caravan, Luís Villagrán of the Center for Human Dignity claimed that nearly 70 percent of the caravan’s members were women and children, ranging from newborns to the elderly in their 70s. But a quick Google search for images of the caravan before it broke up seems to indicate that the caravan’s make-up was not actually 70 percent women and children. If the grades of photos of the caravan are representative of the whole, men – particularly younger men of working age – made up more than 30 percent of the caravan’s members.
It’s no surprise that Villagrán could lie, or at least feign ignorance, about the make-up of his caravan and embellish the truth. Previously, Villagrán organized other caravans during the Trump administration, as well as several others over the past year, although those caravans also dispersed heading north.
What is surprising, however, is Villagrán’s frankness about the fact that these caravans are nothing more than a political stunt. “Immigration is being used as a political tool. These women and children are like coins that need to be exchanged,” Villagrán said Guardian.
Prior to the caravan’s departure, Mexico’s National Migration Institute (INM) wrote a letter to Villagrán expressing its sympathy for migrants and promising to protect them, although it is not usually helpful towards such caravans. “It’s very possible [Mexican President Andrés Manuel López] Obrador wants to use this caravan to look like a philanthropist ahead of the Summit of the Americas,” the letter reads, which is partly why Villagrán timed the caravan’s departure to align with the Summit.
Villagrán is obviously not ashamed. But he should. While the old adage “there is safety in the flock” may be true, joining these vast caravans still carries serious risks. As word spreads that these caravans pass through certain Mexican communities, it attracts the worst of the crowd. Migrants are at risk of being sexually assaulted, raped, or victimized by people smugglers, coyotes, and cartels, not to mention the possibility of injury, illness, or death from the physical stress of the journey.
After traveling less than 25 miles over the course of about a week, the INM announced that Mexican authorities issued the caravan members with documents certifying them legal status in Mexico on their way to the United States
Mexican law bars migrants from traveling beyond Mexico’s state of Chiapas without these documents, a provision introduced during the Trump-era migrant crisis of 2018-2019. Although the caravan was far from leaving Chiapas – again, it only traveled about 25 miles – the Mexican authorities decided to grant legal status to the caravan members anyway. It is estimated that more than 9,000 individuals have been granted the legal status required to travel northwards.
The INM said the documentation means that “migrants are prevented from becoming victims of criminals who have taken to trafficking or traffickers who expose the migrants to unsafe conditions.”
Typically, migrants attempting to cross into the US do not seek or solicit protection from the Mexican government for fear of being turned away by INM staff at the border or deported to their home countries if they approach the INM after they made their way to Mexico. But the INM’s open communication with the caravan, as well as its quick approval of legal status for migrants bound for America, could be a worrying sign of what’s to come.
Make no mistake: the left wants to break America’s immigration system in order to make mass amnesty the only apparent solution to our immigration problem and win millions of voters in the process. Bad actors like Villagrán bid on the spot, and institutions like the INM play right into their hands. Your attempt to make a crisis go away quietly will only create more crises later. If this new INM precedent becomes the norm, the result will be a vicious circle of more and more migration until someone with the political will comes along and says “enough”.
It may be true that providing this documentation deters some of the current migrants from taking extreme measures to get to the US-Mexico border, where they may attempt to make their way across the border despite their legal Mexican status to buy or smuggle. Prolonged stay in Mexico is not the goal of these migrants, even if Mexico were considered the first safe country for people claiming to be asylum seekers or refugees.
Yet providing this documentary only encourages further migration, as evidenced by the massive influx of migrants to the US southern border over the course of President Joe Biden’s tenure following his promises to liberalize US immigration laws. For the time being, however, the members of the youngest migrant caravan have been scattered in the wind soon they will begin to cluster again at the US-Mexico border, where hundreds of thousands await entry into the United States.