My grandma, who survived both the Spanish flu epidemic and the Great Depression, was fond of the saying, “Beggars can’t be choosers.” It’s a folksy way of expressing the notion that when you rely on others for charity, it’s just plain rude to demand something other than what a gracious benefactor is willing to provide.
The caravan migrants currently making their way toward the United States from the Northern Triangle (Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador) claim they’ve been driven out of their native countries by criminal violence and economic failure – that they had no choice but to leave.
Generally speaking, people in dire straits politely ask their neighbors for assistance and gratefully accept relief efforts. They rarely pass up a warm, dry FEMA trailer because it’s not the Ritz-Carlton. But that’s exactly what is happening with the migrant caravan.
Mexico has offered caravanners both refuge and work permits. Yet most of the migrants have refused its proposal, demanding admission to and asylum in the United States. And they have done so despite the fact that Mexico shares their native language, has a similar culture and an economy that provides more opportunity for low-skilled laborers.
Why? Because the bulk of the individuals in the caravan are economic migrants rather than true asylum seekers. They’re not fleeing political persecution of the type contemplated by American asylum statutes. They’re seeking economic opportunity.
And while life in Mexico may be safer and more secure than in the Northern Triangle, the United States provides a much more significant economic advantage. Even at low-income levels, the standard of life in United States life is absolutely luxurious compared to that in either Mexico, Honduras Guatemala and El Salvador. But economic migrants to the United States have to get in line and the caravan members don’t want to wait
Now, the migrants are demanding that someone provide them with buses, so that they can ride to the United States in comfort, and press their baseless demands for admission to our country. And there seems to be little comprehension amongst caravan members that these kinds of unreasonable demands tend to rub Americans the wrong way.
Most of us have received some version of grandma’s wisdom. And we find it impermissibly rude when neighbors in alleged distress show up at our door and dictate to us what type of charity they believe we are obligated to give them, and exactly what type they’re willing to accept. That’s just a bit too choosy for our tastes.
Matt O'Brien writes for the Federation of Americans for Immigration Reform.