By Anthony L hall
Don’t let your hatred of President Trump blind you to this fact.
The caravan of migrants from Central America grew to roughly 5,000 Sunday, a massive group that stretched along this city’s main highway for more than a half-mile.
They spoke in different accents, fleeing different disasters: joblessness in parts of Honduras, a mounting political crisis in Nicaragua, cities in Guatemala where they were sure their children would languish as they had.
Now, they were traversing Mexico while President Trump tweeted about their journey, demanding that the migrants apply for asylum in Mexico before continuing north, threatening to close the U.S. border as Mexican authorities appeared to allow the caravan to proceed.
(The Washington Post, October 21, 20118)
In fact, Trump has threatened to deploy the military to stop these migrants in their tracks – if they make it to the US border. Except that his threat rings as hollow as his promise to get Mexico to pay for the wall, which was supposed to do what he’s now saying the military will.
Not to mention his cut-off-nose-to-spite-face threat to cut aid to all Central American countries that failed to stop this caravan. After all, that would only worsen the conditions that gave rise to this mass migration in the first place.
In any event, I suspect most of these migrants will end up huddling along the border. There they will lie in wait to cross illegally, praying they’re not apprehended and deported after internment in the United States.
I hasten to clarify that I couldn’t care less for the racist and xenophobic Trump. On the other hand, I couldn’t care more for the huddled masses of asylum seekers caravanning towards the border.
But I fully appreciate the categorical imperative Trump has to stop them. Because it’s untenable enough to have a few migrants sneaking across; but it poses an existential threat to have them doing so in caravans of thousands.
After all, if they’re allowed to cross the border into heaven on earth with little or no trouble, every one of the tens of millions they left behind will soon be fleeing their hell on earth, in sequent caravans, too.
This raises the question: Then what? And any Democrat who fails to provide a comprehensive and credible answer is being disingenuous. Never mind that this is a far cry from the dishonesty Trump displays on this and every other issue.
For example, this mendacious buffoon is trying to convince Americans that this migrant caravan is a Democratic ploy to smuggle MS-13 gang members from Central America and Muslim terrorists from the Middle East into the United States.
Both are demonstrable lies of course. But only a brazen and shameless liar like Trump would peddle the absurdity of terrorists flying from the Middle East to Central America, to join a migrant caravan, on a four-month, Death Valley-like walk to the US border, hoping Trump’s border agents will let them in, to carry out 9/11-style attacks.
Any such terrorist would know that it’s far easier to fly into the United States on a tourist visa directly from the Middle East or any country in Europe. After all,
For an increasing number of immigrants, illegal status arrives overnight, without a single step.
In each year from 2007 to 2014, more people joined the ranks of the illegal by remaining in the United States after their temporary visitor permits expired than by creeping across the Mexican border.
(The New York Times, March 6, 2017)
Yet the willful ignorance of far too many Americans is such that many will believe him. Believe me!
That said, I reiterate what I’ve been arguing for years, including most recently in “Separating Immigrant Children from Their Parents. This Is America … Too,” June 20, 2018.
The only way to truly stem this tide is to marshal American resources (political, financial, and even military) to change conditions on the ground that are causing people to flee for their lives. …
The best way to deal with a neighbor’s house on fire is not to build a wall around your house to keep that fleeing neighbor out; rather it’s to help that neighbor put out the fire, lest it engulfs the entire neighborhood. …
It would be refreshing to have a US government offering direct assistance to help regional governments combat indigenous violence and provide basic services for their people, instead of trying to overthrow them. As part of this assistance, it could help those governments build, protect, and sustain safe havens within their respective borders, as well as launch public information programs to discourage people from thinking the reason America is a ‘Shining City on a Hill’ is that its streets are paved with gold (you know, all that glitters is not…). …
Ultimately, though, the only way to truly fix America’s inherently flawed immigration system is to kick Trump and his enablers in the ‘cult-like’ Republican Party out of office. Because only Democrats seem committed to comprehensive immigration reform. This would include not only a guest-worker program but also incentives for illegal immigrants now living in the shadows to assimilate, assimilate, assimilate!
More to the point, such reform would practically end any need to cross the border illegally.
Incidentally, only the congenitally ass-backward Trump would think that withholding aid from these poor countries – as he is threatening to do – would stop what he says are illegal immigrants ‘infest[ing] our country.’
This June 20 commentary also references America’s mercantile policies and insatiable demand for illegal drugs, which are the root causes of Central America’s migration crisis.
Unfortunately, Trump’s anti-immigrant, America-First policies have alienated most, if not all, Central (and South) American leaders. Therefore, they’d be forgiven for feeling as hostile towards the United States today as Fidel Castro felt at the height of the US-led embargo against Cuba.
Most leaders would welcome such a Marshall Plan for their region of course. But nobody should be surprised if one or two of them prove all too happy to create the kind of trouble Castro caused for the United States when he launched the infamous Mariel boatlift.
On April 20, 1980, the Castro regime announces that all Cubans wishing to emigrate to the U.S. are free to board boats at the port of Mariel west of Havana, launching the Mariel Boatlift. The first of 125,000 Cuban refugees from Mariel reached Florida the next day.
The boatlift was precipitated by housing and job shortages caused by the ailing Cuban economy, leading to simmering internal tensions on the island.
Still, I cannot resist sharing this abiding lament:
The United States has wasted trillions of dollars over the past 17 years trying to change conditions that make Afghanistan and Iraq breeding grounds for jihadi terrorists. But imagine the salutary benefit if it had spent just one-third of that money changing conditions that make countries in Central America breeding grounds for wretched migrants.
At the very least, the United States would not have caravans of “homeless, tempest-tost” souls marching towards the “lamp beside the golden door” that is the US border with Mexico.
* This commentary was originally published at The iPINIONS Journal on October 22