The Real Reason The So-Called Caravan Now is Wending Its Way From Central America to the U.S. Southern Border
By Ken K. Gourdin
I have a sister-in-law (who has since passed away) who emigrated to the United States from Italy . . . legally. I have been to places on the American Continent which qualify, easily, as part of the Third World. I am not unsympathetic to those who come here seeking a better life, to improve their circumstances (which wouldn’t take much, in many cases), and in hopes of achieving the American Dream. I get it: Many of those who come here have little, if anything, to lose, while, at the same time, having much (at least potentially) to gain.
In many ways, the United States immigration system is a mess: It can be argued that the system is needlessly complex and, therefore, that it is also arbitrary. The rules imposed on potential immigrants from one country as composed to those imposed on potential immigrants from another are different, often for no sensible reason. If I were faced with the choice of confronting such a byzantine, arcane, seemingly-senseless system in an attempt to comply with the law, on the one hand, or immigrating illegally, on the other hand, while I would disagree with this decision, I can understand why someone having not much (if anything) to lose and much (potentially) to gain might flout immigration law in order to come here.
My faith, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, likewise, is sympathetic to those who attempt to come here. However, one of the cardinal Articles of that faith is, “We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, and in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law” (Articles of Faith 1:12 of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). And a passage from a book which Latter-day Saints consider scripture speaks of the need to do “all things in wisdom and order” (Mosiah 4:27, The Book of Mormon). One should be treated humanely and with compassion regardless of the circumstances of one’s coming to the United States, and regardless of one’s status—legal or illegal.
All of that having been said, I hope I can be forgiven for succumbing to the human failing of suspecting the motives of those who comprise the caravan currently (as of this writing) wending its way from Central America to the United States southern border—or, if not suspecting the motives of the migrants themselves, suspecting the motives of those who support them. While I am not a lawyer, as I understand it, one requirement for being granted asylum is a well-founded fear of persecution in one’s country of origin. As deplorable and oppressive as the economic conditions where they are coming from might be, those economic conditions, standing alone, are insufficient to support a claim for asylum.
Further, as I understand it, the usual procedure for seeking asylum is to either: (a) seek asylum in the first country one comes to after departing one’s country of origin; or (b) to go to the embassy of the country from which one wishes to seek asylum in one’s home country and to request it. From a purely physical, logistical standpoint, it’s certainly easier for one to go to the embassy of the country where one wishes to seek asylum in one’s own country.
I have no hard numbers, but if I had to hazard a guess, I would wager that dozens (if not hundreds) of people follow that process in an attempt to leave one country and to seek asylum in another every week, and it never makes news. Ay, there’s the rub! It never makes news—unless one is a particularly high-profile citizen of his home country or unless his reason for seeking asylum is particularly noteworthy.
One illegal immigrant is a statistic; several thousand at once is noteworthy and newsworthy. Hence, the caravan.