No, The ‘Caravan’ Is Not A ‘National Emergy’

(Photo/Creative Commons/Britt Selvitelle)

If you tuned in to pro-Trump media over the weekend, you heard feverish talking heads report that the “caravan” of people moving from Honduras towards Mexico was using “women and children as human shields.” Even Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that “they are putting women and children in front of this caravan to use as shields.”

The term “human shields” is used when someone puts an innocent person in front of himself to stop another person, a police officer perhaps, from shooting him. If conservative commentators are denouncing the supposed use of “human shields,” does this mean that they were planning on shooting the immigrants? Is Mike Pompeo angry that snipers can’t get a clear shot? Hopefully not, but it shows how irrational the rhetoric on the right has become.

It is also incredibly demeaning to the Latinas in the caravan. Women form the majority of adults in the group. They are fully capable of deciding where they want to stand in the procession. They are not the unwitting tools of evil puppeteers. They are trying to save their own, and their children’s, lives.

This morning, Donald Trump tweeted:

The United States does not give “massive aid” to these countries. While Trump wants to spend $25 billion to buid The Wall to keep immigrants from these three nations out, this year’s U.S. assistance was $46 million for El Salvador, $80 million for Guatemala, and $67 million for Honduras. Much of that money was spent on countering MS-13 and on the kinds of economic development designed to keep people from leaving in the first place. Cutting off the aid will likely lead to more Central Americans heading North. In any event, the “massive aid” Trump is threatening to cut off amounts to about $10 per person in the affected countries.

Trump also sent out another tweet this morning. In it, he wrote of the caravan that:

The president, of course, offers no evidence that the people in the caravan are either “criminals” or “Middle Easterners.” But, this is what excites his base. He also claims, in still another tweet, that the Democratic Party is behind the caravan, again with no evidence. Of course, the world of the Trump supporter is a world in which the facts rarely penetrate anyway.

The people in the caravan are among the most vulnerable in the Western Hemisphere. They are men, women, and children who have been forced by gang violence and hunger to flee their homes. They have embarked on a journey in which they are in danger every step of the way. For that reason, a few thousand have banded together in this informal procession north. They are not coming to take on the United States Army. They do not pose a threat to the federal government. To claim otherwise is a dangerous lie.

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Patrick Young blogs daily for Long Island Wins. He is the Downstate Advocacy Director of the New York Immigration Coalition and Special Professor of Immigration Law at Hofstra School of Law. He served as the Director of Legal Services and Program at Central American Refugee Center (CARECEN) for three decades before retiring in 2019. Pat is also a student of immigration history and the author of The Immigrants' Civil War.