Why the Migrant Caravan Is California Dreamin’
Typically, caravans trek 2,500 miles from the Northern Triangle (El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala) to Tijuana, eschewing closer border crossing points like Reynosa and Matamoros Texas, which are only about 1,200 miles from Central America.
According to unnamed “experts” and caravan organizers interviewed by the AZCentral.com, there are three reasons for avoiding the Texas ports of entry:
- Avoiding criminal organizations that prey on migrants in the Mexican states of Tamaulipas and Veracruz. Both states must be crossed on the way to Reynosa and Matamoros.
- Tijuana’s established network of shelters and humanitarian organizations that aid migrants.
- Tijuana’s physical proximity to California, which has declared itself a “sanctuary state.”
But those aren’t the real reasons that caravanners prefer to try and cross the border into California. The truth of the matter is that the route is inextricably linked to legal strategy.
Federal courts are divided into judicial circuits. These circuits define the geographical limits of each court’s jurisdiction. Federal courts within the Ninth Circuit hear matters originating in California, including matters arising at the San Ysidro Port of Entry. The federal courts in the Fifth Circuit hear matters originating in Texas, including those arising at the Reynosa and Matamoros Ports of Entry.
The Ninth Circuit is known for its radically liberal stances on immigration matters. The so-called “Trump Travel Ban” case originated in the Ninth Circuit. However, the Fifth Circuit is noted for being conservative and constitutionalist in all things. It was a Federal District Court in Texas that struck down the Obama administration’s “Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents” (DAPA) program.
The end-game of caravan organizers has never been to obtain relief for poor and downtrodden Central Americans. It has always been to challenge Donald Trump’s immigration policies. And one of their main stratagems for accomplishing this goal has been to file suit in a federal court most likely to order the Trump administration to admit all of the caravan members to the United States.
So the caravan had to end its journey at the San Ysidro Port of Entry, just outside San Diego. And, right on cue, an alien advocacy group filed a lawsuit on behalf of six caravan members and their minor children. A lawsuit that would have been promptly dismissed anywhere but in the Ninth Circuit.
People genuinely fleeing persecution head for the nearest safe location. They don’t walk an extra 1,200 miles, especially through the lawless territory that currently constitutes much of Mexico. On the other hand, people who have no legitimate claim to be admitted to the U.S. tend to head for the location where they are most likely to find the most sympathetic judicial ears. And that’s exactly what the caravan did.