More than 1,500 Honduran migrants broke through a Guatemalan police cordon on the border with Mexico yesterday as the primary caravan continues northward. This has kept the issue in the headlines as our nation approaches one of the most important mid-term elections in recent American history. As the nation first learned with the Mariel Boatlift in 1980, governments can “weaponize” migrant streams in an attempt to destabilize or embarrass a neighbor. The Mariel Boatlift allowed Cuban President Fidel Castro to empty out his jails and mental institutions and send them to his hated neighbor, the U.S. Here are five documented and important facts to know about the current caravan:
According to Honduran president, Juan Orlando Hernández, the caravan is being funded in part by the Venezuelan dictatorship.
The caravan contains “gang members” and people with “significant criminal histories,” including deportees, according to Department of Homeland Security.
The caravan, currently estimated to be roughly 7,000 strong, is not an isolated incident. There’s already a second one forming in Guatemala and a third one in El Salvador that started northward yesterday.
Many caravan participants, by their own admission, are economic migrants and will not qualify for asylum in the U.S. Unfortunately, because of loopholes in our asylum laws that Congress has failed twice to fix this year, they will likely be admitted and then disappear into the interior of the country. (Not a single Democrat voted for either bill with the needed asylum amendments).
Several thousand caravan members were offered asylum and a comprehensive benefits package that included healthcare and jobs from Mexico, but most have turned it down. Many are not fleeing for their lives from persecution back home, and are simply heading to the U.S. for better-paying jobs.
Dan Stein is the president of the Federation of Americans for Immigration Reform.