Guy W. Farmer: Stop the migrant caravans
December 1, 2018
As my loyal readers know, I'm tough on President Trump when he does or says something completely outrageous and/or unpresidential, but it's only fair to praise him when he does something right, and I think he's doing the right thing by blocking the so-called "migrant caravans" coming north to the U.S.-Mexico border from Central America.
Although radical leftist Open Borders/Abolish ICE politicians and the Mainstream Media portray these human caravans as nothing more than dirt poor Central Americans trying to save their children and their families from endemic corruption, poverty and violence, the truth is far different. The TV networks have shown us footage of desperate women and children attempting to breach our border with Mexico, but they also showed hundreds of healthy young men throwing rocks at U.S. Border Patrol agents. Who are those young men? No one knows for sure, but we most certainly don't need or want them in our country.
Let's face the facts: These migrant caravans are full of unskilled, undereducated people who know nothing about the United States and don't speak English. That's the definition of Third World "wretched refuse" (to quote a famous but outdated poem) and it's certainly not the kind of merit-based immigration we should be seeking in the 21st century. And moreover, as Trump has stated, illegal immigration represents a continuing threat to U.S. national security.
As part of much-discussed and desperately needed comprehensive immigration reform, Congress should guarantee border security by approving something Trump can call a "wall" and revising our political asylum laws. At present, Central Americans who sneak into the U.S. across our porous borders can claim asylum and remain here pending adjudication of their asylum claims. Conclusion: Central Americans should be treated just like everyone else — no more "catch and release" for asylum seekers, which the Obama administration allowed.
It's not our fault Central America is so violent; it's their fault even though we've poured millions of dollars into El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras in an effort to help those governments establish the rule of law and combat gang violence. Our efforts haven't worked, however, despite State Department claims to the contrary. A recent Foreign Service Journal article about a U.S.-financed and sponsored "place-based strategy" in Honduras claimed to be "undercutting the migration push at the source." Then came the migrant caravans, several of them originating in Honduras.
Trump has called the caravans "an invasion" and tweeted "criminals and unknown Middle Easterners are mixed in" with the caravans.
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That's probably true because we have no idea of who most of these people are. Just last week, for example, two convicted sex offenders were arrested at the El Centro Border Station at Calexico, Calif.
Trump, who has threatened to close the border if necessary, may be able to strike a deal with Mexico's new president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador ("AMLO"), who takes office Saturday, to keep most Central American asylum seekers in Mexico while their cases are being adjudicated. Meanwhile, Mexico has already offered asylum and jobs to thousands of young men who have come north with the caravans.
As the Wall Street Journal opined last week, "From the media coverage you'd think the culprits (for border violence) were U.S. Border Patrol agents who used tear gas to disperse the mobs and defend themselves. . . . We can't tolerate migrants who rush the border or assault our officers with rocks." Amen!
NOTE to Vincent Barnes: Thanks for reading my column. Happy Holidays!
Guy W. Farmer, a retired U.S. diplomat, follows immigration issues closely.