The Caravan



Caravan immigrants taking part in a Via Crucis

Mabel Ra, Editor

According to Merriam Webster, asylum (noun) can be defined as “the protection granted by a nation to someone who has left their native country as a political refugee.” To some, this may be just a word. However, to others, this is their ultimate goal in midst of their harsh realities.

Recently, there have been many immigrants seeking refuge and asylum in the United States. They have traveled from Central America to Tijuana, Mexico near San Diego in hopes of getting admitted into the United States territory. They travel by caravans which are organized by “Pueblo Sin Fronteras,” an organization that has helped immigrants over the past 15 years travel to the United States with aspirations of seeking asylum. This organization works to keep the immigrants together and safe from potential danger and conflict.

In order to gain access into the United States territory, these migrants must pass the US Customs and Border protection port. However, by the time these immigrants arrived at the port, the officials stated that the port was at full capacity and those who wished to enter the port would have to wait in Mexico while the officials worked with those who were present at the port. Consequently, these immigrants waited anxiously in Mexico, contemplating over the future of their families.

This caravan is a political and activist statement, as its organizers have been working to bring more public awareness about the struggles and dire situations that these immigrants are working to overcome. They want to stress the difficulty and stress of traveling from their home countries to seek asylum in a foreign country in hopes of finding better lives.

According to the NY Times, an immigrant named Gabriela Hernandez is a pregnant mother of two children who has joined the group in a month long period of traveling from the Honduras, past Guatemala, and into Mexico to go to the United States. She states that they left behind her friends and family whilst fighting through the hunger and fatigue of traveling during their month long journey. Another woman, Isabel Rodriguez, has been traveling with her grandchildren in the caravan. She states that she is thankful to have reached Tijuana but is apprehensive about her uncertain future. She adds that she “[hears] they are separating people who are not parents of children…but [she is] ready to get to the border.”

Although these caravans have been helping immigrants reach the US border for the past 15 years, this particular trip has gained the public attention because of several tweets from Trump, sparking much debate about the immigration policy. Trump has told Mexico to stop the caravans and has informed them that he would not allow the immigrants to enter US soil in his tweet: “Despite the Democrat inspired laws on Sanctuary Cities and the Border being so bad and one sided, I have instructed the Secretary of Homeland Security not to let these large Caravans of people into our Country. It is a disgrace. We are the only Country in the World so naive!”

In fact, the Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen has informed the public that if people in the caravan “enter the country illegally, they will be referred for prosecution for illegal entry in accordance with existing law.” Entering the country by illegal means is often attempted, as achieving asylum in the United States legally is very difficult. A study by Syracuse University shows that more than 75% of immigrants from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala during 2011-2016 were not granted asylum in the United States.