By Dr. Larry Fedewa (October 27,2018)
Elmer and I were talking about the Caravan from Honduras. Elmer knows a lot about Honduras. His family migrated from Honduras to the United States when he was fifteen, and went through all the steps to citizenship, which was granted a few years later. Elmer now has his own business, employing three/four licensed plumbers, his wife (who runs the office), and a couple of apprentices. All are from Latin America, either citizens or on the way. Elmer voted for President Trump and intends to do so next time as well. But he doesn’t know what to do about the Caravan.
His parents still have a house in both countries and travel back and forth regularly. Elmer doesn’t go to Honduras any more. It is just too dangerous and too depressing. As he describes it, the gangs run the neighborhoods, and the government is run by gangsters. There is no law enforcement or protection for ordinary citizens from the extortion, kidnapping, sexual abuse of women, and simple cruelty of the gangs. He tells of a friend who was kidnapped for ransom, a girl who refused to date a gangbanger and watched him murder her whole family in retaliation. Their grip is so tight that no one is brave enough to stand up to the bad guys for fear of harm to their families.
Elmer understands why the Caravan has attracted so many people for such a dangerous venture: they have nothing left to lose. There is no hope in Honduras. Honduras is Hell!
But, at the same time, the United States has no obligation to solve the problems of the Hondurans. Nor do the needy Hondurans have the right to make themselves a burden on the United States taxpayers. Attacking the USA simply by force of numbers is not going to end well. The United States will have to defend itself.
So, the existential dilemma is down to this: the rights of the Caravan people to live as human beings versus the rights of the Americans to choose whom they will allow into their country.
What is the solution? Is there some “third way” to solve this problem? The discussions surrounding the migration of Syrian refugees to Europe yielded one suggestion. Namely, that an area be designated and defended by the neighboring countries for the refugees to set up temporary quarters and wait out the war with food and technical support of non-combatant neighbors. This alternative never materialized as a formal action, but there are some heavily populated “refugee camps” from previous wars in several areas of the Middle East, e.g. Palestine.
Perhaps this idea might be considered for the current Caravans. If the Americans succeed in repelling the Caravan invaders when they reach the border, there will be a de facto settlement right there in Mexico. What then? How will the Mexicans react?
Elmer says that Mexico is as bad as Honduras with the only difference being that the “gangs” are run by the drug cartels, which are well-organized and well-funded. What is clear is that the USA could use a holding area of some kind from which to process the requests for entry in an orderly manner.
The alternative seems to be “catch and release” because the currently available holding areas are already overcrowded, and the immigration courts are months, if not years, backlogged already. But releasing unto the American streets massive numbers of people who do not speak English, have no material assets, no cash, many with no skills, and no work permits – this step would inevitably lead to disaster. A holding area seems like the only answer – whichever side of the border it lands on.
Of all the monster dramas we have witnessed in 2018 – hurricanes, stock market sell-offs, Supreme Court nominations, Trump rallies – the Caravan’s arrival at the U.S. border may turn out to be the most riveting.