The ‘New Normal’: A New Era of Bigger Migrant Caravans Has Begun

The Daily Signal | 2/8/2019 | Staff
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KYIV, Ukraine—Over the past year, migrant caravans from Central America have become bigger and better organized, experts and officials say, underscoring a looming immigration crisis that will test U.S. immigration laws and strain the U.S.-Mexico relationship.

On Jan. 29, John Rood, U.S. undersecretary of defense for policy, told Congress that three migrant caravans were crossing Mexico, headed for the U.S. border. One of those caravans comprised roughly 12,000 people, Rood said, reportedly the largest migrant caravan on record. These caravans mainly comprised migrants from the Central American countries of Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador, an area known as the Northern Triangle.

Caravans - Shape - Form - David - Inserra

“Caravans, in one shape or form, are becoming a new normal,” said David Inserra, policy analyst for homeland security at The Heritage Foundation. “They offer political agitators in Latin America the opportunity to make big domestic political statements while offering would-be migrants a seemingly safer and cheaper way to come to the U.S.”

Once they arrive at the U.S. border, many Central American migrants ask for asylum, claiming “credible fear” of being harmed should they return to their home country.

Year - US - Customs - Border - Protection

In fiscal year 2018, U.S. Customs and Border Protection registered 92,959 asylum claims on the southern U.S. border, a 67 percent increase from the year prior, according to agency data.

“These numbers reflect a dramatic increase in initial fear claims by those encountered on the border, which is straining border security, immigration enforcement and courts, and other federal resources,” U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said in a press release published to the agency’s website.

Caravans - Increase - Asylum-seekers - January - Caravan

On their own, bigger caravans don’t account for that notable increase in asylum-seekers. Even this January’s 12,000-person caravan represents a fraction of the 50,753 people apprehended illegally crossing the southern U.S. border in December alone.

“While caravans certainly represent a concerning new trend, it is worth noting that the...
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