The migrant caravan has added thousands of people headed to McAllen, Texas, on Sunday. A third wave of migrants has lifted the total number of migrants to 10,000 according to some reports — and up to 14,000 according to others.
The caravan first started with approximately 150 people, who were inspired to go from San Pedro Sula, Honduras, by Bartolo Fuentes. Fuentes is a leftist legislator who also has hosted the radio show “Without Borders,” and, along with his wife, helped organize the caravan. It then traveled to another city within Honduras, then to Guatemala, while picking up additional migrants along the way. When the caravan arrived at the Guatemala-Mexico border, it had grown to 3,000 and started to pick up more people as it moved along — with a total of around 7,000, according to some estimates.
The caravan is expected to arrive at the border in the next few weeks, after the mid-term elections on the 8th of November, but that has not stopped President Trump from threatening to cut off aid to Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador — as they have not been successful in stopping the caravan from reaching Mexico. This has become a central issue in the political debate within the United States.
This migration will continue to be in the news in the coming days and weeks, especially as President Trump uses this as an argument to strengthen the border with Mexico — build the wall, or put troops on the border. There has been a significant reduction in the amount of people trying to come across the border each year, but this many people en route to the US/Mexico border may be more of a strain than what the current border facilities are prepared to handle. And for this reason the President has called for the military to help augment the Border Patrol and other agencies. Having the military on the border will solve some logistical problems, but it may create other issues such as having to train military personnel on how to provide law enforcement duties, such as arresting, detaining, and proper handling of people coming across the border. A properly trained Border Patrol agent has a lot of training on how law enforcement works, and augmenting this with military personnel may bring a lot of its own issues.
Who is in the caravan?
For the most part, it looks like they are people looking for work, families, children, and people looking for a better life than they had in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. There has recently been debate from the news media and the President about who is actually in the caravan, and given that even getting a proper estimate of the number of people — which changes daily — it is speculation to claim that there is or is not very bad individuals within the group.
We know that there are families, children, women, and of course men looking for work. All of those groups have an interest staking out a better life should they make it to the United States, but this also holds true for members of violent gangs coming out of those countries where the caravan originated. Many are also fleeing a country where they may be murdered not just by rival gangs, but by the police as well. In El Salvador the authorities have instituted what they call the “Iron Fist” approach to dealing with them. Many times the members of gangs never make it to the police station or trial, they have been reportedly executed on the spot by the police, in some cases. They also have reasons to hide their affiliation with gangs such as MS-13 while on the caravan, as traveling through many of the areas of Mexico on foot or asking for help is risky if you are a gang member. The cartels control much of the area they need to travel, and if they find that one of them is affiliated with a gang, especially rival, they could easily be killed. It is possible that members of these gangs are embedded within the caravan, but we have not seen any definitive proof just yet, and the motivation is there for them to come to the United States, even at great risk in Mexico.