Immigration is a frequently discussed issue in the United States. One might say that America is a nation of immigrants that opens its doors to everyone. But many citizens consider immigration a serious threat to the country, with a number of economic, political, and environmental complications. Because of the variety of opinions, immigration to the United States remains an open question. There are many reasons why people choose America as their destination.
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Each year this century, more than a million immigrants have moved to the country, and about half of them stay permanently. One of the latest and most provocative cases of immigration took place in November 2018.
The caravan incident included thousands of migrants from Central America who were coming to the United States to ask for asylum. The reaction of US President Donald Trump was to close the border and use tear gas to prevent the migrants from coming into the USA. In this paper, the essence of the caravan incident, the decisions made to remedy the situation, and the attitudes of the population will be discussed to show the importance of national and global reactions to this event.
Essence of the Caravan Incident
Despite multiple attempts to fight against poverty, unemployment, and poor living conditions, many Latin American citizens continue suffering from an inability to find a solution to the problems that face them. Therefore, a decision to leave the city at 6 a.m. was made on a Friday morning. The caravan with thousands of Central Americans made its way from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador toward the United States border and “moved on from Mexico City in the pre-dawn chill on Saturday” (Malkin).
In the beginning, it was a group of people who “strapped on backpacks, rolled up blankets and hoisted sleeping children into their arms to begin the next leg of their journey” (Malkin). According to Shelley, in total, there were approximately 7,500 people divided into three or even four groups, called caravans, with the largest one comprising 4,000 migrants. They were ready to walk more than 4,000 km (2,500 miles) in order to ask for asylum (“Migrant Caravan”). People took this step to protect their children against the threat of violence in their native countries and provide them with a chance to create a better life.
As soon as they reached the border, they faced serious complications. President Trump gave orders to keep the migrants on the Mexican side until a court investigated the case of every person and made a final decision about the suitability of each migrant to America. This approach meant that poor families with young children had to spend a great deal of time outside. In a short period of time, the Trump administration proclaimed a restriction on asylum claims and the impossibility of migrants’ crossing the border through the officially identified port of entry (Agren).
During the last several years, US law has been used to support migrants requesting asylum when they approach the border, and it introduced reasons for people with poor living conditions, unequal opportunities, and positive ambitions to seek work in the United States. Trump changed the rules and explained the presence of caravans close to the US borders as an invasion of immigrants, “many of whom are stone cold criminals” (Kinosian). The result of this decision was as expected: migrants did not find it necessary or even possible to leave the border because they could not just return home.
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The caravan members did not pay enough attention to the words of President Trump and they neglected the changes to current US policies that limited their abilities to ask for asylum. Many migrants admitted that they did not want to ask for protection only. What they needed was an opportunity to work and earn a living. Migrants believed that they had to struggle to succeed, and America was seen as a perfect place to make an attempt (Malkin).
In El Salvador, people from other regions were killed just because they did not want to sell drugs or be involved in similar jobs. One of the immigrants shared the story of how her stepfather, a two-year-old brother, and a 16-year-old sister were murdered in their native town and said emotionlessly that they are not scared anymore because “fear is dead to us” (Malkin). Some Americans demonstrated their compassion and readiness to help, but many native citizens started supporting Trump and believing that this new wave of migration was another challenge to the nation and could cost a lot.
A peculiar feature of this caravan is that all its members were not from one particular country, but from many different countries in Central America. Migrants do not give one particular cause of why they left their homes. Researchers and journalists define violence, poverty, and hope for a better life as the main reasons for such a decision (Cadman 1). The situation in their countries is so desperate that many people are ready to cross the border even when they are aware that there is a restriction from the President.
On Sunday, November 25, approximately 500 migrants were tired of waiting for a final decision about their fate and began storming the barriers. The Mexican police were not able to control the crowd, and the US Border Service employees had to use tear gas in response to stop this abrupt invasion (Mikhno).Though there has been no official confirmation, some people said that a girl died as a result of this gas attack.
Not many Americans are actually surprised by the results of the latest migrant invasion or judge them negatively. The explanation of this attitude is usually connected with the Central American Minors (CAM) program and its effects on the US economy, society, and politics. According to the current statistics of CAM and the U.S. Embassy in Honduras, more than 13,000 people filled out the applications, 1,565 migrants were defined as refugees, and 1,465 migrants were accepted. In the context of this program, Obama asked for additional funding to help migrants during their first days in the United States.
Although Americans believe in the power of compassion, support, and humanism, all these qualities and virtues should not be reasons to allow millions of people to enter the country and take jobs and houses that could be offered to Americans. In 2010 and 2014, similar “caravan” incidents were observed on the Mexico-US border, but it was possible to come to a consensus without using tear gas or making those events a public or even global concern. The presence of these caravans shows that the problem of immigration to the United States exists and has to be solved.
Reaction in the United States
Immigration is a very important issue for millions of Americans. There were many different reactions to the events that happened in November 2018 on the Mexico-US border. As expected, opinions are divided into those who are against migrants being present in the United States and those who support the idea of Central American immigration. There are also groups of people who believe that immigration is still inevitable in the United States, and instead of ignoring people’s needs, it is time to improve existing policies and introduce new regulations. In other words, there are supporters and opponents of Trump’s decision to close the border, as well as people who have not come to a final decision.
It is wrong to simply reject the citizens who support Trump and do not want to make the country open to all migrants from around the whole world. There are such issues as national security, prosperity, and equal opportunities, so Americans have the right to seek them. When migrants cross the border illegally and start earning a living, they steal from native citizens. The goal of Mr. Trump is to stop illegal immigration and build a wall on the southern border if necessary. In addition, the actions of migrants caused negative attitudes when they started throwing projectiles at US border guards (“Migrant Caravan”).
This example of lawlessness called into question the intentions and possible consequences of immigrants coming to America. Therefore, it seems to be reasonable to close the doors to promote public safety, security, and order for American citizens. It is ethically correct, and social justice is not denied when the government takes steps to protect its people. If migrants were allowed to enter the country and then did something bad, society could hardly forgive the President for letting such results happen.
There are also many people who believe that although the actions of the migrants violated certain legal frameworks, their decisions could be understood and supported. Instead of accusing migrants of asking for free health care, education, services, and freedoms, it is possible to emphasize the fact that many migrants find jobs legally, pay taxes, and contribute to the government in a variety of ways (Thomson).
During their interviews, the members of the caravan incident of November 2018 admitted that they did not want to ask for asylum or cause work for the government. Their goals included the avoidance of death in their homelands and the opportunity to earn money in the United States with the permission of its people and government (Agren). The supporters of the immigrants explained that desperation and hope are the main drivers of the caravan in this situation. It is wrong to punish people for their intentions to survive and to resist poverty and violence.
Finally, the role of improvements and changes cannot be ignored in the United States. Recent events prove that immigration policies cannot be left as they are right now. Although some migrants may create a threat to national security or national identity, it is never too late to remember support and compassion. At the same time, the presence of new people and the organization of their actions have to be under the control of authorities.
There should also be groups of people who can define and solve immigration problems. America cannot just close its doors to migrants and explain it as an unwillingness to help other countries. The use of tear gas and the threats to build a wall are the extremes which are necessary to prove the power of the American government and the president. The November events demonstrate that immigration can be controlled with the help of different methods, and its outcomes depend on people’s actions and decisions about whether to behave aggressively or follow the law.
At this moment, it is difficult to form a comprehensive picture of the global reaction to the caravan incident of November 2018. On the one hand, it is hard for the citizens of other countries to accept the fact that America closed its doors on its neighbors and its cheapest source of labor. On the other hand, the behavior of the Central American migrants crossed the line when they broke the rules and violated the law.
The US border personnel had to take certain measures and control the situation. Therefore, a neutral global reaction is currently observed regarding the topic. The migrants’ needs and issues are understandable, as are the expectations and concerns of the United States. This incident includes the relationships between the United States and the representatives of Central America. The global perspective will take firmer shape over time as some countries make the decision to help Latin American migrants or to support America and emphasize the necessity of controlling the southern border.
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Actions to Remedy the Situation
The situation on the Mexico-US border still raises a number of questions and concerns from both sides. The US population wants to be sure that migrants will not create a serious threat to their wellbeing. Latin American citizens need an idea of how events will develop over time. It is impossible to leave the situation as it is now. Nevertheless, it is also inadvisable to take immediate steps just in order to do something without thinking about the consequences.
The decision to use tear gas and stop the crowd made Trump both a hero and a villain. That decision was not easy for the president, but his intentions to stop illegal migration and the uncontrollable presence of migrants in the United States cannot be ignored. It is difficult to suggest clear and effective steps to remedy the situation right now. However, the recommendation for the Mexican and American governments to start cooperating and developing new policies for migrants and crossing the border has to be emphasized.
In general, the caravan of migrants who intended to come into the United States in late November was the result of unfair and dangerous politics in Central America. Opinions about the event vary from ethical, political, and social perspectives. Although it is sometimes expected that America will open its doors to all people in need, it is also necessary to note that Americans themselves may ask for additional support and compassion.
There are certain boundaries in the United States, and the government has to keep order on its territory. If the presence of migrants challenges national identity and security, the decision of the president to stop a crowd of immigrants, even by using tear gas, can be justified. It is time for America to reduce its concern for justice around the world while neglecting injustices to its native citizens, including the lack of healthcare services, unequal education, and unemployment. It is normal for people to be for or against immigration into the United States and to support new policies to control the process of immigration into the country without stopping it entirely.
Agren, David. “Migrant Caravan to Leave Mexico City on Foot for U.S-Mexico Border After Failed Request for Buses.” USA Today. 2018. Web.
Cadman, Dan. What Are the President’s Emergency Immigration Powers?. 2018. Web.
Kinosian, Sarah. “U.S. Closes Major Crossing as Caravan Migrants Mass at Border in Mexico.” The Washington Post. 2018. Web.
Malkin, Elisabeth. “Mexico Gave the Migrant Caravan a Warm Welcome. It Wasn’t Always This Way.” The New York Times. 2018. Web.
“Migrant Caravan: Mexico Deports Group That Stormed US Border.” BBC News. 2018. Web.
Mikhno, Olga. “A Caravan of Migrants Tried to Storm in the USA. A Photo. Video.” Forum Daily. 2018. Web.
Shelley, Susan. “A Caravan of Unintended Consequences.” The Orange County Register. 2018. Web.
Thomson, Derek. “How Immigration Became So Controversial: Does the Hot-Button Issue of 2018 Split the Country? Or Just the Republican Party?” The Atlantic. 2018. Web.
U.S. Embassy in Honduras. Central American Minors Program. 2017. Web.