Trump declares a 'national emergency' as 7,000 migrant caravan approaches the US
Updated: Apr 16, 2019
US president Donald Trump declared the migrant caravan a ‘national emergency’ on Monday via Tweet, as efforts to stop the 7,000 people from continuing their approach to the US border have been unsuccessful, reports CNN.
Moreover, the US President has threatened to cut aid funding to Guatemala and Honduras if the caravan continues, tweeting:
"The United States has strongly informed the President of Honduras that if the large Caravan of people heading to the U.S. is not stopped and brought back to Honduras, no more money or aid will be given to Honduras, effective immediately!” on Tuesday.
The declaration of a ‘national emergency’, however, does not appear to be a real executive action, Doris Meissner from the Migration Policy Institute calling the President’s words “subjective judgment” and his reaction “disproportionate”, on CNN.
The migrants are mostly from Honduras and are fleeing violence, poverty, and corruption. The Central American country’s poverty levels reached 66% in 2017, with 1 in 5 Hondurans living in extreme poverty, according to the World Bank. It is also one of the ten most dangerous countries in the world, with approximately 44 homicides for every 100,000 inhabitants. Its capital, Tegucigalpa, is often referred to as “the most violent city in the world”, with murder rates more than 20 times those of London (Spectator).
The caravan began as a group of about 160 people in Honduras on October 12 that had been planning it for over a month, but soon the news spread, and the group had grown to 1,000 by the next day.
Some of the migrants in the caravan are seeking asylum in Mexico, while others are seeking to continue through to the US. However, Mexico has a history of turning away asylum-seekers at the border, a process called refoulement, sending them back home to mainly Honduras and El Salvador, says Amnesty International. This is condemned under international law, though there is no real binding code forcing countries to grant asylum to all those who seek it.
There is also no international law stating that refugees must seek asylum in the first country they visit, meaning that migrants can cross Mexico to seek asylum in the US.
Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto has requested for the United Nations to help with the processing of the migrants’ requests.
So far, he has reinforced border control in the Guatemalan border, though USA Today reports that these guards would be unarmed, and that the United Nations’ officials would ultimately determine which migrants will go through.
By: Ana Hernandez