OPINION: The migrant caravan myths are the real danger

Noah Meyer, Opinions Editor

In actual, material reality, the “Migrant Caravan” is a non-issue. A couple thousand of desperate, mistreated human beings have embarked on a dangerous journey north, some with the goal of seeking asylum in the United States. Even if the roughly 7,000 people somehow walked all the way to the U.S. border; even if all of their asylum requests were accepted; even if every single one of these people settled in the United States; even after all of them were resettled across the U.S., hardly a thing would change. What are 7,000 people to a country of 300 million? The “Migrant Caravan” should hardly be an issue of any significance to any sane individual, but it’s midterm season and, therefore, the lives of 7,000 desperate asylum seekers have generated apocalyptic fear for the easily-startled right.

Few of these startled individuals have any grasp as to why 7,000 people have left their homes to trek hundreds of miles, and while I have little expectation they actually care at all about why these sorts of things occur, the caravan should be put in context. The asylum seekers are fleeing Honduras, a nation that currently has one of the highest murder rates on the planet. Honduras wasn’t always in this state—in fact, before 2009, Honduras was relatively peaceful. That was before a military coup ousted democratically elected leader Manuel Zelaya, seemingly with U.S. approval. Zelaya was a moderately left-wing leader who raised the minimum wage, created pensions for the elderly, and provided funding for student scholarships—all things that angered the business and military communities.

What sealed the coffin for Honduran democracy, though, was when Zelaya sought to hold a referendum, an action that is legal in Honduras law, to replace the 1982 constitution established under the rule of American supported dictator Policarpo Paz Garcia. Suddenly, military leaders, most of whom were trained in the U.S. Army’s School of the Americas training program, ousted Zelaya and took power. Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton refused to denounce the coup, instead opening communication with the coup leaders. Rather than listen to the demands of the international community to reinstate Zelaya, Clinton called for “free and open” election—elections controlled by the military junta. The Union of South American Nations refused to accept the election results, but the U.S. State Department prevented any significant action. Since then, Honduras has descended into corruption and violence. If anything, the U.S. complicity in the matter demands some sort of restitution.

Therefore, the “Migrant Caravan” is actually composed of individuals, many of whom are women and children, fleeing the violence brought about by a coup that the United States appears to have aided and abetted. This is why these people are actually asylum seekers, which is a perfectly legal process, and not the fence-hopping horde that conservatives portray them as.

Currently, the biggest worry about the caravan seems to center around the fear that the caravan contains gang members and terrorists—which is silly enough to hardly warrant a response. Much of the hysteria around gang members stems from the fear of MS-13, which has essentially become the boogeyman to the easily frightened American conservative. Rest assured that the asylum process will weed out the secret gang members, who in reality, are not going to try and cross the border in a massive caravan that has the attention of a media circus. As for the Middle-Eastern terrorists that are supposedly sneaking in with the caravan—think critically for a moment about how ridiculous of a plan it is for a terrorist to fly to Honduras, walk hundreds of miles, and then somehow get through the border. Besides, the last terrorist bomber America saw was a proud Trump supporter. Your precious suburbs are secure.

While on the subject of domestic terrorism, this “Migrant Caravan” hysteria now has a body count. The man who murdered 11 people at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania specifically cites the “Migrant Caravan” in many of his online posts. In fact, the last post the shooter made on Gab before the shooting referenced the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, a program that assists refugees in the resettlement process. The shooter’s rhetoric on the caravan mirrors the rhetoric used by President Trump and other conservative politicians, as well as echoing fears that Jewish billionaire and frequent Democrat donor George Soros, also a target for the bomber, funds protests and the caravan. It’s hard to divorce the hysteria surrounding George Soros from anti-semitic fears that there is some far-reaching Jewish conspiracy, and the rhetoric about Soros’ alleged cabal-like control fuels these fears—fears which have now boiled over into terrorism. The “Migrant Caravan” midterm electioneering strategy now has left a city and a community reeling from a sick act of violence fueled by the increasingly conspiratorial rhetoric on the right.

The “Migrant Caravan” as an issue is a blatant attempt at drumming up fear before the midterms because nothing fuels the conservative base more than the unfounded fear of foreign hordes coming to a suburb near you. It felt like another case of conservative fear-mongering that would dissipate after the midterms, but now that 11 people lie dead due to the conspiratorial thinking dominating right-wing discourse, the story can’t go away. One thing I am sure of is that the asylum seekers would make better Americans than every single one of these fearmongers combined—because taking in those “huddled masses yearning to breathe free” is what America purports to stand for. Those stoking fear at these asylum seekers hate America; in fact, they want the federal government to prevent these individuals from their legal right to the process of seeking asylum, as well as pursuing life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. These fearmongers should listen to their own rhetoric: if you don’t like America, why don’t you leave?

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