"President Trump is not simply upholding basic US national security by protecting the southern border; he is showing great compassion to countless future migrants who may seek asylum in the US."
Rovvy Lepor is a contributor to the American Thinker. In the following viewpoint, Lepor argues that President Donald Trump's policy of militarizing the US southern border will prevent people from entering the country illegally and deter those who might consider joining a migrant caravan, a term referring to a large group of Central and South American migrants that travels north to seek asylum in the United States, migrating together to facilitate safe travel. By deterring people from joining caravans, the author contends, the president's policy demonstrates his desire to prevent people from risking their lives by undertaking the perilous journey north. Stationing troops and building a physical barrier along the southern border, Lepor maintains, will encourage asylum seekers to pursue other methods of making their cases for legally immigrating to US authorities.
As you read, consider the following questions:
- According to the author, what is the Darien Gap, and how does it impact immigration?
- What evidence does the author provide to support his argument that the migrant caravan poses a threat to the United States? Do you find it convincing?
- Do you think US interests would be better served by a highly fortified and militarized border or a more welcoming policy of immigration? Explain your answer.
The focus of the liberal media and many liberal commentators and pundits has been on President Trump's uncompromising defense of the USA from the migrant caravans, some of which now encroach on our southern border. They don't tend to praise him for doing the right thing. Rather, they are wholly critical of his unflinching intent to secure the border with the help of the military. They condemn President Trump for doing his duty to safeguard US national security and claim that the migrants are harmless and an asset to our country.
In their rage against President Trump, they commit themselves to the ill-informed and myopic view that he is harming the migrants. In reality, President Trump is being compassionate to countless future would-be migrants who would face a treacherous and often deadly journey on a misguided quest to enter the US illegally.
Filmmaker Ami Horowitz visited the migrant caravan that began in Honduras and reported that it is comprised of relatively few women and children, with an estimated 90–95% of the caravan being men. Horowitz reported that the caravans did not just naturally coalesce and was not spontaneous, but rather is highly organized. People in the caravan tend to be looking for a better life in the United States, rather than fleeing for their lives from their home countries.
Pueblo Sin Fronteras organizes these caravans. In English the organization is known as People Without Borders, and, true to its name, its goal is for open borders—something that poses a direct threat to the national security of the United States and other sovereign countries. Pueblo Sin Fronteras organizer Alex Mensing admitted to USA TODAY that the caravans are "a mass exodus" of people from Central America to the US—effectively an attempt to begin to render the US border meaningless.
According to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, as many as 10,000 migrants are expected to arrive at the US border, while the Mexican Consulate has reported on the presence of about 8,200 migrants. Secretary Nielsen made clear that seeking employment or seeking to reunite with family does not constitute a legitimate basis to seek asylum. According to Nielsen, most of those in the caravans are teenage or adult males, including an estimated 500 criminals, some of whom are gang members. The Mexican ambassador to the US, Geronimo Gutierrez, has also confirmed the presence of criminals among the caravans, though he is unsure about the number. It is noteworthy that Mexico has detained 213 migrants from the fourth caravan.
There are reports that 3,000 migrants plan to force their way through the US border as a stampede, posing an unprecedented threat to US border officials. Such a plan should not come as a surprise in light of an estimated 3,000 migrants who forcibly overran the Guatemalan border in order to break into Mexico last month, then took rafts to cross the river and enter Mexico (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tye76fAdx2U).
It is imperative that the US military be properly prepared to completely stop any such stampede for the sake of their own safety and the safety and security of US citizens, including many who live right on the border. If thousands of the migrants break into the US, it will be that much more difficult to successfully track all of them and put them into detention facilities. With potentially hundreds of criminals among the migrants, President Trump must immediately ensure that the US military on the border is fully prepared, with all offensive and defensive measures necessary to protect US national security—beyond the placement of troops and razor wire. US troops at the border must be armed as a last resort for self-defense and defense of the border, but even more importantly as a deterrent against riotous and potentially deadly behavior by members of the caravan.
While many of those in the migrant caravan will not qualify for asylum, the US is processing between 60 and 100 asylum seekers per day. The US offers asylum to those who flee persecution for a whole host of reasons.
President Trump is not simply upholding basic US national security by protecting the southern border; he is showing great compassion to countless future migrants who may seek asylum in the US. He is effectively saying that if you legitimately seek asylum, you should enter the US directly rather than take a treacherous journey from Columbia through Central America and Mexico and into the US. As long as a pathway exists to enter the US through subterfuge by traveling from countries like Guatemala and Honduras into the United States, many thousands of migrants will continue on that path, endangering their lives in the process. If President Trump, and perhaps other governments to the south, effectively shut off this pathway, far fewer people will attempt to enter the US illegally from the south.
The most dangerous part of the journey that migrants take to the US is through the Darien Gap. The Darien Gap is a 60-mile swath of jungle that separates Columbia from Panama. It is traversed by tens of thousands of people each year on their trek to the United States. A recent CBS documentary on the journey through the Darien Gap highlights the great danger to the lives of those who choose to traverse it:
Augustin, one of the smugglers we follow, says "The Darien Gap is … very dangerous. Because there are many hills, many rivers … many snakes, many jaguars. I've seen many people die. Not just one. Many." Added to that, there are violent paramilitary groups who control the drug smuggling corridor that runs parallel, but deeper inside the jungle. . . According to Augustin, "People go in circles like a snail and they never make it. And many have come here like that and have never made it."
While it is imperative that the US grant asylum to those who qualify—as it does—it is also similarly appropriate for the US to shut down the backdoor into the US that often traverses the dangerous Darien Gap. If President Trump continues to stand unwavering in his determination to stop those who seek to illegally enter the country, even in the face of seemingly unrelenting criticism from many in the media and other supposed experts, he will be encouraging people who legitimately seek to enter the US to travel directly to the US and enter legally. He will also likely save the lives of many who would otherwise take the arduous journey from South America through the Darien Gap to Central America.
It is high time that President Trump receives the wall-to-wall commendation and support that he deserves for securing the border and for the border wall. His defense of the US border is ultimately a great humanitarian act in defense of the safety and the very lives of future migrants who seek to enter the US. The message is: Enter through the front door—we will all be better off.