Thousands Join Migrant Caravan Marching Towards the U.S.-Mexico Border
FAIR Take | November 2023
Migrant caravans could be making a comeback. On October 30, a caravan of migrants set out from Tapachula, a city in the far south of Mexico that borders Guatemala. The caravan grew as it pushed north and local officials estimate it consists of approximately 3,500 illegal migrants, while the caravan organizers themselves claim to be leading 7,000 people.
At one point, the caravan blocked a major highway in southern Mexico and the migrants demanded that the Mexican authorities issue them with transit visas so they could continue northward and attempt to enter the U.S. One of the caravan’s organizers said the blockade would continue, because migrants are afraid of the criminals who will prey on them if they keep walking. Many would prefer to take buses, but are often prevented from doing so if they don’t have papers. But Mexico’s Refugee Aid Commission issued a statement late Tuesday stating it does not issue transit visas.
Illegal migrant caravans heading towards the U.S. Southwest border were a problem faced by the Trump administration, especially at their peak in 2018. These caravans were far from a spontaneous affair, and some were organized and coordinated by the pro-mass-migration nongovernmental organization, Pueblo Sin Fronteras (“People Without Borders”). The role of NGOs in this and other caravans poses an extra challenge to America’s border security, which is already badly strained by the 8 million encounters since January 2021.
One interesting feature of the caravan currently traversing Mexico is the presence of Cuban, Haitian and Venezuelan nationals. The Biden administration’s parole program was specifically designed to help Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans, and Venezuelans by allowing them to fly into the United States. Biden administration officials claimed it would “lawfully and safely bring qualifying individuals into the United States.” However, the participation of Cubans, Haitians, and Venezuelans in this caravan shows that the parole policy is a failure, and may even be encouraging illegal migration from those countries.
The U.S. immigration system has been susceptible to abuse long before President Biden assumed office. But policies pursued by the current administration, such as parole and scrapping the Migrant Protection Protocols (often referred to as “Remain in Mexico”), have helped increase mass illegal immigration. The organizers of and participants in the new caravan are aware of policy changes that increase their chance of entry. Reuters spoke with a Venezuelan migrant who said: “the group was impatient to get to the U.S. border and start the process to enter the U.S. with appointments secured via a U.S. government app, CBP One, and request asylum.”
The Associated Press also spoke with a Honduran in the caravan who admitted his motives were economic: “The idea is to get to the United States because there is a better future for the children, the truth is that we are doing it for them.” While understandable, such sentiments neglect the fact that mass, unchecked illegal migration often exerts a negative impact on American children – including those of legal immigrants – for example by funneling public education resources away from them towards the expensive-to-educate children of migrants, most of whom require Limited English Proficiency coursework.
At this point, the new migrant caravan remains in southern Mexico. If the caravan manages to reach the U.S. border, for example, if Mexico changes its attitude and decides to allow it to pass, it is likely that U.S. border officials will simply release the migrants after processing, and that is probably what the migrants within the caravan are hoping. Regardless of how events unfold, FAIR will continue monitoring the situation and informing the American public about the true extent and impact of the illegal migration crisis.