By Elise Yu
Thousands of men, women, and children are trekking north from their native countries of Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador in order to seek asylum and gain more opportunities in Mexico and the United States. These undocumented migrants know that they have a slim chance of entering the U.S., but they are hopeful in their chances of entering the land of freedom.
The caravan initially was a significantly smaller group of Hondurans who wanted to flee the instability of their government. This caravan gained widespread appeal as it traveled through neighboring countries, aggregating more migrants as they traveled.
According to CNN, Honduras is a country where over 60% of its civilians live in poverty and is riddled with gang violence and constant instability. Constant drug wars curse the country with crime. El Salvador is in shambles as natural disasters and poor economic conditions force many inhabitants to flee. El Salvador also has one of the world’s highest homicide rates and is home to many notorious gangs. And Guatemala has one of the world’s highest malnutrition rates.
Some of these migrants have been walking for days on end. Many have succumbed to dehydration, fever, and other illnesses. Living off of food given to them by locals, the migrants in the caravan must sleep in makeshift camps on the streets. Despite suffering through this journey, there is no guarantee that these undocumented migrants will be allowed to live in the United States.
Estimates say the caravan is still hundreds of miles away from the U.S./Mexico border and most likely will not reach it until after the midterms.
The thought of thousands of migrants entering the United States from impoverished, crime-ridden countries makes many feel uneasy. It is important to note that there are reports documenting the caravan might have started from 2010. President Trump announced on October 31 that he would be sending up to 15,000 US troops to encounter the migrants at the US/Mexico border.
Known for being tough on immigration, Trump took to Twitter saying, “Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador were not able to do the job of stopping people from leaving their country and coming illegally to the U.S. We will now begin cutting off, or substantially reducing, the massive foreign aid routinely given to them.”
Many people have accused President Trump and other republicans of taking advantage of the migrant caravan and use it as a campaign strategy. Critics say Trump is flexing his tough immigration policies to help republican candidates gain the support of voters concerned with immigration.
Even when the caravan reaches the U.S./Mexico border, it is unclear as to how many people will receive the asylum they seek.
Only those who can prove that their lives are in legitimate danger in their home country can receive refugee status. If this status is granted, a person will be allowed to live in the United States indefinitely. Those who are looking for economic opportunities are not eligible for refugee status.
The impacts of the migrant caravan are unclear, and the fate of the migrants is uncertain.