The Pel Mel

Point/Counterpoint: Should the Immigrant Caravan Be Welcomed or Spurned?

Sam Plunkett, Junior and Ella Stern, Senior, Sports Editor and Features Editor

Sam Plunkett, Junior

Over the past year, a popular topic of discourse among politicians has been the integrity of our southern border with Mexico. Recently, a large group of Honduran refugees has come through Guatemala and into Mexico in order to request asylum in the U.S. The group is commonly being referred to as the caravan. So far, the caravan has made little to no progress in entering the U.S. According to an article published online by NPR on November 27, these asylum seekers have thrown rocks at U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents, and rushed the border, attempting to break through. The national debate has become whether we should let these migrants in or not. The caravan should not be let into the United States, due to the risk that American citizens would face.

During the first month that they attempted entry into our country, caravan members demonstrated their desperation to cross the border by participating in illegal behavior and causing chaos. In spite of this, the Mexican government and the U.S. government have tried to work out a deal. According to The Wall Street Journal, the U.S. offered an agreement to have the caravan stay in Mexico while the U.S. hears the cases of the people seeking asylum. The Mexican government offered temporary housing, food, and identification to those in the caravan who were not involved in criminal activities, in an attempt to decrease the number of people seeking asylum. However, the process of managing asylum for all who seek it will take months.

If America allows these immigrants to simply cross the border, it could do more harm than good. With an indefinite number of people in the caravan (estimated as between 4,000-10,000), the number of refugees admitted for our country would skyrocket. Every year, the president suggests a new limit on this number, which is approved by Congress. According to the Department of State, the cap for refugees from Latin American countries is 3,000 for the 2018-2019 fiscal year. However, in November alone, 51,856 people were apprehended between ports of entry on the Southwest Border, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Letting in the whole caravan would break the refugee cap. This would be dangerous because we already spent over 400 billion dollars in welfare benefits, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The Census Bureau reported in 2014 that 63 percent of households headed by a non-citizen used at least one welfare program. How much higher would that number grow with an open border? It is estimated that there are currently approximately 554,000 homeless people in America. Wouldn’t it make more sense to shift resources and other forms of government assistance to help our own citizens in need? Why compound the problem by admitting a group of people who may be uneducated and unskilled?

The dangers of letting the caravan in outweigh any moral obligation we have to them. As much as we want to believe that every one of these people are good and want to help us, this is an unrealistic view. Though many of them are undoubtedly good people, their actions at the border and the risk involved in not carefully vetting those we admit to our country is not worth it.

Ella Stern, Senior

Centuries ago, thousands of individuals traveled on boats fleeing Europe to America for the sake of a new life in America. America’s original ideals of accepting those who are different seem to be in question after recent immigration-related events. Turning away a group of people that has fled to America, a country of great promise that claims to be the land of opportunity, from their own home out of fear for their security, is inherently immoral. As President Trump continues to pedal the narrative that these immigrants are criminals, rapists, and gang members, America is abandoning its original ideals of inclusivity and freedom for all.

A caravan of immigrants has arrived at the United States border. The caravan was formed in early October and traveled through Mexico to reach the United States. These immigrants come from various places in Central America and generally have one goal — asylum from danger and persecution. Many of these people are coming as families. These mothers and fathers, who seek a safer, happier life for their children, do so at their own peril; they want to have a place to raise their children without the risk of an attack on their well-being. Moreover, they want a place to call home that is safe and secure. According to The Independent, “…families with underage minors make up more than half of all migrants taken into US Border Patrol custody.”

President Trump has been outwardly opposed to the caravan, even going as far as threatening U.S. aid to foreign countries that support the immigrants. Additionally, Trump continuously blames the Democratic party for their tendency to support open borders. The migrant process has proven to be extremely long and excruciating. Many migrants have joined the caravan as it passes through, encouraged by the media attention. According to The New York Times, the government has offered the migrants two options – apply for asylum or apply for a humanitarian visa. A humanitarian visa is valid for one year and is renewable.

In November, the caravan arrived in Tijuana, Mexico. Their arrival to Tijuana raises questions for Americans about possible confrontation. Trump labeled the caravan as an invasion and he sent over 5,000 troops to the southern border to protect against the caravan.

Members of the caravan are fleeing their home countries because of the threat of crisis that exists there. Instead of turning away immigrants seeking asylum to America, we should invest in ways to improve their lives before they have a need to take such extreme action. The Washington Post reports that if America wishes to help the migrant caravan we could start by financing plans that allow for economic expansion and job opportunities to citizens in their home countries. Additionally, The Washington Post suggested entering a free-trade agreement that would establish a unified market with common standards. Such a market would stimulate the economies of Central American countries which would, in turn, improve the lives of individuals such as those joining the most recent migrant caravan. Perhaps before America abandons its fundamental principles of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, we can invest in ways to improve the lives of people that are living broken lives of little opportunity.

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Point/Counterpoint: Should the Immigrant Caravan Be Welcomed or Spurned?