There has been a lot of fear mongering about the caravan of people headed toward the United States. President Donald Trump has whipped people into a frenzy about how dangerous this group is while providing little evidence.
He has called up the National Guard to defend the border, which is completely unnecessary. I’m not going to dissuade those who fear people that don’t look like them, but the people in the caravan are not illegal, do not pose a threat to you, your loved ones, or your job.
Let’s give them a fair hearing once they arrive and send the soldiers back home. They aren’t needed. Send lawyers and judges instead.
Providing a bridge to safety to those seeking protection is a responsibility our nation took on after the Holocaust. Despite the rhetoric and policy efforts of this administration, U.S. and international law explicitly state that we must offer individuals a fair opportunity to request asylum.
WALKING TOWARD SOMETHING BETTER
Since the group set out from San Pedro Sula, Honduras, estimates of their size have been placed at 4,500-7,200 people. They are from Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua.
Some people have already abandoned the caravan: 1,699 people have applied for asylum in Mexico, and 495 Hondurans have asked to be repatriated, according to the Mexican government
The migrants who have spoken to the media have said they chose a caravan to avoid paying a coyote and to be protected from would-be thieves looking to kidnap, steal from, and/or rape them.
About 210,000 foreigners enter the US daily via all points of entry. A few thousand at one border checkpoint on one day is statistically insignificant. In reality, the caravan will see people trickle in over time, not all in one day.
The San Ysidro Port of Entry, “is the largest land border crossing between San Diego and Tijuana, and one of the busiest land border crossings in the world with 70,000 northbound vehicles and 20,000 northbound pedestrians crossing each day, in addition to southbound traffic.”
The caravan is 900 miles away and its numbers dwindle more each day. We won’t notice when they actually get to the border.
In April, another caravan that began with 1,500 people had dwindled to a few hundred by the time it reached the U.S. Border.
According to data and congressional testimony from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officials, 401 members of that caravan requested asylum at ports of entry, a legal right enshrined in U.S. law and international conventions the U.S. is party to.
Federal officials interviewed those asylum-seekers and found 374 of them, or 93 percent, passed the first test on the path toward asylum, where they must demonstrate that they have a “credible fear” of returning to their home country. That’s higher than the 76 percent approval rate that all asylum-seekers received in fiscal year 2018, according to Citizenship and Immigration Services data.
That higher rate accounts for the fact that these people are most likely credible asylum seekers, who followed the legal procedures – they presented themselves upon entering the United States and then were granted their rights under international and U.S. Law.
You cannot apply for asylum in your home country. You must request asylum when you are physically in the country where you wish to stay. This is one of the few ways available to immigrants. Trump may say he will not let any members of the caravan in, but he is legally obliged to do so.
According to 8 U.S. Code § 1158, it doesn’t matter how you set foot in America, once here you can apply for asylum. You aren’t illegal. Once you have applied, you get a hearing to determine your case.
Senator Ted Cruz’s father, Rafael, came to the U.S., under questionable circumstances as well. He received a visa to study in Texas and bribed an official in Cuba to stamp his passport with an exit permit. If you know the history of Rafael, it is understandable why he wanted out of the country. Then, when his student visa ran out, Rafael applied for political asylum, presumably had his hearing, and was allowed to stay.
Let the migrants, who are still 900 miles away, have their day before we make any decisions.
APPEARING IN COURT
There are also claims that has been spread claiming asylum-seekers then do not show up in court. This is also a lie.
According to Justice Department data from the last five available years, around 60 to 75 percent of non-detained migrants have attended their immigration court proceedings.
The rate for asylum-seekers is even higher.
Before the Trump administration ended the program in June, participants had a 100 percent attendance record at court hearings. They also had a 99 percent rate of check-ins and appointments with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, according to a Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General report.
“According to ICE, overall program compliance for all five regions is an average of 99 percent for ICE check-ins and appointments, as well as 100 percent attendance at court hearings,” the report said. “Since the inception of FCMP, 23 out of 954 participants (2 percent) were reported as absconders.”
Adam Isacson from the Washington Office on Latin America said that US and Mexican statistics show that just 869 people from the “Middle East, Af-Pak and Saharan countries” were detained in the US border zone in 2017 – which represents 0.5% of total apprehensions in Mexico and an even smaller percentage of the US total.
BETTER WAYS FORWARD
If Trump were smart, he would use this as an opportunity to expand the immigration court system. The system completes about 200,000 cases per year with a backlog of more than 400,000. The current wait is about 400 days. By expanding the court, you can handle cases as they arise, not more than a year later.
Seeking asylum is difficult. If you are genuinely escaping the horrors of life that include potential death, poverty, escaping drug cartels/violence/gangs I would not blame you if you tried to enter another country illegally.
I praise anyone who does it legally knowing their claim has a good chance of being denied and they will be sent back to their potential death.
The diversity of immigrants enriches American culture and makes us all better people. I look forward to these men, women, and children who arrive at the border to have their day in court, no matter how long it takes and I will welcome every single one to a better life than what they are fleeing.