HARTFORD, CT: What are the facts about the immigrant “caravan” heading towards the United States? The Connecticut Institute for Refugees and Immigrants provided some facts and responses to frequently asked questions concerning families and children seeking asylum at our southern border:
Question: Will the “caravan” of migrants overcome the border?
Fact: CIRI strongly prefers to call this group of desperate people, including children, just that– desperate. These are human beings and families that have fled extreme violence and are traveling together for protection on a long and perilous journey to lawfully seek asylum in Mexico or the US.
Fact: Although the size of this group is slightly larger than other groups in recent years, the size is likely a reflection of timing (more temperate weather) and the current, increasingly volatile conditions in Central America and, specifically, the northern triangle (Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala). Although it’s unlikely that all of the current members will come to the U.S., if they do, it’s even less likely that they will all arrive at once. It’s not uncommon for migrants to travel in groups through Central America and Mexico, and many in this group, as in groups before, may splinter off and/or choose not to come to the U.S.; but rather claim asylum in Mexico, as many have already done.
Question: Are these “bad people” looking to come to the U.S. “illegally” and do harm to the U.S?
Fact: The migrants are traveling in a group not because they seek to cause harm or violence, but rather because they are fleeing it. Traveling in a group helps to protect them as they make the long and perilous journey from Central America, up through Mexico. Individuals who would otherwise try to make the trek alone are joining the group for protection. Seeking asylum is not illegal. For those traveling to the U.S. to apply for asylum there is a precise process by which individuals seek this type of lawful protection from persecution in their home countries.
Question: We know nothing about these people—there are terrorists mixed in?
Fact: The Department of Homeland Security collects biometric data from migrants as they cross borders in Central American countries. There is no evidence that any terrorists are hiding in the group. And there are several more checkpoints for the group to get through in Mexico, which is where many have stayed to claim asylum.
Question: What You Can Do
Fact: Join the #RefugeforFamilies Campaign. Sign up as an official supporter of the #RefugeforFamilies campaign. As individuals: Join the Cross-Border Humanitarian and Legal Response. #RefugeForFamilies will be recruiting and coordinating humanitarian and legal assistance in Mexico, along the US-Mexico border, and across the United States. #RefugeForFamilies will identify trusted volunteers that can provide support to migrant families. Individuals can sign-up to volunteer. Learn more at cirict.org.