Since Oct. 12, when 160 Hondurans started their journey from San Pedro Sula, Honduras to the US boarder to seek asylum, they and the so called “migrant caravan” that they make up has been a hot topic. From daily video footage of the caravan as it traveled through Central America to fear-mongering statements from the President, there is a lot being reported. But much of the reports ignore vital facts that brought us to the present, and this lack of critical analysis of the situation is resulting in the formation of false or lacking narrative of the situation on hand. After the caravan reached the Tijuana-San Diego boarder, the US’s violent response to the asylum seekers is a conversation on its own. There has still been no addressing of certain facts and points surrounding the caravan and the situation as whole. From reading articles and watching news since the beginning of October and reading the historical context of Hondurans’ need to seek asylum, here is 4 key things that everyone should be aware on.
1. This isn’t a voluntary migration.They are asylum seekers.
By definition, there are two types of migration: voluntary and involuntary. The caravan is the latter. From poverty, lack of education, access to food and other necessities, and of course inescapable violence, political and other, Honduras’s conditions are unlivable; hence prompting this forced movement rather than a voluntary one.
2. No one is invading the US.
Since the beginning of October, The Trump administration along with with news outlets have been drawing evidence less claims such as the caravan being an “invasion,” which, as mentioned before, are people seeking asylum due to unlivable conditions, not organized and hostile group of people with an agenda to invade the USA like the president claims. And the media perpetuates Trump’s xenophobic comments by pointing at the fact that the asylum seekers are traveling together and in huge numbers, like invaders. Not only does this comment perpetuate anti-immigrant sentiments that mislead people into believing false narratives, but it is simply not true. The caravan consists of vulnerable demographics such as children, women, LGBT+, elderly, etc., traveling (mostly) by foot, so traveling in groups is much safer, especially considering their route. The individuals traveling are not hostile individuals, but rather people traveling in crowds as a means for survival since, per international law, they have to reach the US border in order exercise their right to seek refuge.
3. US intervention helped create the “migrant caravan.”
While the US government has had a history of involvement in Honduras and Central America in general, the actions taken by US in response to the 2009 military coup in Honduras is the one to blame for the deteriorating conditions post coup in Honduras. To sum up a long and multifaceted event, in 2009, Honduran people democratically elected Manuel Zelaya, a liberal reformist, as president. He believed in LGBT rights, women’s rights, climate change and even raised the country’s minimum wage by 60%, all of which are considered radical beliefs; and this of course was met with opposition from right wing elites and government officials. But on the day Zelaya planned to hold a (legal) non-binding referendum on whether or not to amend the Honduran constitution, the opposition collaborated and exiled Zelaya to Costa Rica; thus beginning the military coup. From evidence suggesting the US’s motives of keeping military allies rather than overturning the coup to Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State at the time, working to sustain the violent coup, and the funding from US sustained the military coup, that sustenance resulted in lasting violence and suppression that has created the need for Hondurans to flee in caravans.
4. The caravan isn’t illegal.
Last but definitely not least, it is important to dispel a very important fact that the media, the Trump administration, and everyone in between and beyond seems to not know or forget: the caravan is not illegal. Actually, it is a human right that is granted to all people across the globe, irrevocable of identity or situation, to seek asylum since the 1951 Geneva Convention. The outcome of the convention is something the US has to keep in mind before producing dangerous rhetoric that creates false narratives instead of the truth, the asylum seekers’ action of fleeing Honduras due to poverty, violence, persecution, etc. This criminalization of asylum seekers, while not unprecedented from the US government, is based on false evidence and a direct violation of the internationally recognized human right that permits anyone, irrevocable of identity and situation, to enter a country to seek asylum.
Featured Image: Oliver de Ros/AP Photo