Migrant Caravan Reveals Larger Truths About Immigration

In absolute terms, no country in the world takes in as many immigrants as the United States. That’s a fact to remember when critics in the human-rights community and across Latin America blister our country for its immigration policies.

I may sound like an immigration opponent saying that. But I believe Latin American immigration has richly rewarded the U.S. with great families, people and workers. I want more. Not less.

No opponent of Latin American immigration will say that.

But I also want to see greater understanding for the issues that confront host nations as more and more migrants show up en masse on their borders.

The story of the Central American caravan, its trek north through Mexico and its clash with U.S. law enforcement can help provide context by revealing larger truths about immigration.

Mexico has a big border problem

As caravans move through Mexico, they meet the same kind of resistance and hostility illegal immigrants have faced in the United States. In this country, that’s too casually called racism. In Mexico, it’s harder to argue that.

More likely, both countries are expressing another universal quality of human beings everywhere — fear and suspicion of the outsider.

Mexican protesters in places like Tijuana are carrying placards that read “invasion.” They oppose 5,000-plus migrants who have staged near the U.S.-Mexico border to try to get into the United States. They want them out. Deported.

In mid-November, about 300 Mexican protesters in Tijuana converged angrily on a migrant center there, The Wall Street Journal reported. The protesters were carrying Mexican flags and chanting something you could imagine hearing in the United States:

“No more caravans! Our poor come first!”

Mexicans no doubt resent Central Americans who several weeks ago overran their country’s southern border and who, by their sheer numbers, are putting stress on Mexican cities.

Tijuana’s mayor said that the onslaught of people has created a “humanitarian crisis,” and that his city’s taxpayers will not be footing the bill for all these migrants.

By Philip Boas for USA TODAY
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