The deportations of the migrant caravan members have begun. But before you break out your “Abolish ICE” protest signs and take to the streets, you should be aware that it’s not the United States doing it. Mexico has begun rounding up some of the more troublesome migrants and shipping them back to their home countries. (Washington Times)
Tijuana officials said late Monday they had arrested 34 caravan members for drug possession, public intoxication, disturbing the peace and resisting police, and they would be deported to their home countries.
Trump administration officials, who have portrayed the migrant caravans as a threat to the United States, have said there are as many as 500 criminals in the groups heading northward, though they haven’t said what crimes they are accused of or where the figure came from.
On Tuesday, journalists awaited the arrival of Homeland Security Secretary Kristen Nielsen on a San Diego pacific coast beach sliced by a towering border wall wrapped in razor wire. On the Tijuana side, dozens of onlookers gathered with cellphones to take pictures of her arrival through the fence.
We’ve spent plenty of time debating the impact the caravan could have on the United States. That’s with good reason because the vast majority of the migrants have made no secret of the fact that America was their goal all along. But less has been said about the impact this group is having on Mexico. The Mayor of Tijuana has a situation on his hands and his constituents no doubt expect him to deal with it. Residents have already been out in the streets protesting the arrival of the caravan and taking those protests to the places where the migrants have been sleeping.
Tijuana is a fairly good-sized city with a population of just over a million. But their economic survival is based almost entirely on tourism, with the vast majority of that traffic coming from the United States. Having a bunch of migrants getting into drunken brawls and slinging drugs probably isn’t viewed as a net win for the locals. It doesn’t help that the mainstream media is gathering there like flies on roadkill and drawing everyone’s attention to the situation.
So what options do the migrants have at this point? According to one of them interviewed by the local press, jumping the fence into the United States is looking better and better.
Walter Matute, 36, said he has been deported from the U.S. twice and fears jumping the border would end his ability to get asylum. But he believes others will now take a chance in light of the court ruling blocking Trump’s ban on asylum for illegal border crossers.
“Yes people are going to cross,” the 36-year-old Honduran said. “There are a lot of women and children. A lot are going to be up for it now.”
The bad news for Walter Matute is that he’s already a repeat offender. Having been deported twice, if he sneaks back across the border he could be facing jail time rather than yet another trip back to Honduras. Will that thought deter him? Apparently not. But what were we to expect? When the caravan arrived at Mexico’s southern border and was informed they would need to wait to be processed, the majority of them simply swam across the river and entered illegally. Why would we think the result at the U.S. border would be any different?