Migrant Caravan: A Student Perspective


Edgard Garrido / Reuters

Members of a caravan of migrants from Central America walk towards the United States border and customs facility in Tijuana, Mexico, April 29, 2018. (Edgard Garrido/Reuters)

By Trinity Donnelly, Klein Cain High School

A Heated Debate

The migrant caravan that recently arrived at the US border has sparked many debates in recent weeks. This migrant caravan consists of people who claim to be fleeing the poverty and violence in their countries. Migrants who are traveling to the United States have stated that they will be seeking asylum upon arrival. However, those who are simply searching for a better quality of life do not actually qualify. The United States cannot return a person to their country of origin if their lives are at risk. As such, refugees seeking asylum must go through a credible fear screening process to prove that they qualify for asylum.

“This is a complicated situation, where there is seemingly no answer that will please everyone. And because I am not one of them, I do not know how it feels to be in this situation or what would resolve it. But, I would be scared if I found myself in a situation that is similar to the people in the migrant caravan,” Bryanna Crow, a sophomore at Klein Cain, said.

With the issues surrounding this topic there comes disagreement and differing opinions from people of many backgrounds. Some have begun to voice their concerns over the migrants passing the border into the country. Others argue that they deserve a chance to prove their case for asylum. Recent developments at the border have only served to further this conflict.  This has led to hot debate and conflict regarding the intentions of people in the migrant caravan.

“There is no doubt that some people in there have bad intentions,” Diego Godinez, a sophomore from Klein Cain said. “To avoid harm and further complications, these sort of people need to be dealt with appropriately. However, you shouldn’t let a few bad grapes define the entire group.”

Increased Tension

The use of tear gas against migrants has sparked further debate. According to statements from the Customs and Border Protection Agency, the tear gas was in response to aggressive individuals who began to rush the border. However, as the tear gas affected many bystanders, including children at the border, there has been concern from activists. As the effects of tear gas on children are unknown, many have voiced concern regarding the action. Others believe it was necessary to avoid harm to U.S. Customs Agents.

“Some people may be slightly exaggerating the situation,” Godinez said.  “when they say that absolutely nothing happened prior to the gas being released. There’s no doubt that there was a conflict before the tear gas was released. However, I do not condone the use of tear gas in an area that had numerous children present. Perhaps there could have been a better way to handle that to avoid putting children at risk.”

There will likely be no solution found soon, as this is a complicated situation. When formulating an opinion, it is important to seek multiple sources and check facts. Many have begun to paint these people in both negative and positive lights, both sides sometimes missing key facts when doing so.

“This entire group has been vilified by many people and organizations. But it is important that not everyone was just allowed to pass through the border, as some may have bad intentions,” Godinez said. “However, I don’t think that this reflects everyone traveling in the migrant caravan. There are mothers, fathers, and children in that group who came here seeking asylum who deserve a chance. They’ve made a long journey, struggling every single mile of that journey. It would be unfair to turn every one of them away if some do qualify for asylum.”

The Facts

The process to receive asylum in the United States can take six months or several years, depending on the facts of a particular case.  The immigration court system is currently backlogged, resulting in long waits for those seeking asylum. As of July 2018, there are over 733,000 pending immigration with the average wait being around 721 days. Many individuals who are seeking asylum have been detained, even if they pass a credible fear test. These individuals do not receive counsel unless they can afford to hire counsel for themselves. In 2017 there was a 61.8% denial rate of those who were seeking asylum in the United States. Five years prior to the denial rate for those seeking asylum was 44.5% according to the National Immigration Forum.

“The length of the asylum process varies, but it typically takes between 6 months and several years,” stated the National Immigration Forum. “The length of asylum process may vary depending on whether the asylum seeker filed affirmatively or defensively and on the particular facts of his asylum claim.”

Fake news is unavoidable in the current day and age, making it vital that people check the facts of situations before developing their own opinion. Situations such as the migrant caravan can cause a lot of confusion regarding facts, leading to widespread misinformation. When determining the validity of an article, post, or message it is important to check information with multiple unbiased sources. Taking a moment to do a few minutes of research can reveal the truth regarding a situation, so long as the sources used are credible.

This story was originally published on Cain Live on December 14, 2018.