“You’re at home,” Enrique Peña Nieto, President of Mexico, said in a video in an appeal for migrants to stay in Mexico and forego their plans of reaching the United States. “If you still haven’t done it and form part of the migrant caravan, there is still time to start the process for regularizing your (immigration) situation.”
This is a sharp contrast to what Donald Trump, the President of the United States, is offering (or more accurately, not offering) to the thousands of people approaching the U.S. in hopes of safety. Peña Nieto, whose term ends November 30, is actually promising people benefits and protections.
“You will receive medical attention and send your children to school,” he continues. “You will have an official, temporary identification to do the necessary paperwork while you regularize your situation.”
To qualify, among other requirements, migrants would have to stay in Chiapas and Oaxaca, Mexico’s southern states.
Right now, the southern border of the U.S. has about 2,100 members of the National Guard. Their job is to keep people from entering the U.S. illegally, but of course, it is entirely legal to seek asylum.
This isn’t the first time a “caravan” of people have approached the U.S. hoping to seek a safe home. Earlier this year, in fact, out of another traveling group of (mostly) Hondurans, 401 migrants requested asylum, with 93 percent passing the initial screening. Of that caravan, only 122 people were caught attempting to cross the border illegally.
Currently, it’s estimated that up to 10,000 people are trying to reach the U.S. border, though numbers are hard to determine as groups break off, people become ill or injured, or some seek asylum elsewhere.
As of now, at least 1,700 members of the caravan accepted offers to stay in Mexico and apply for asylum there. But thousands more are still en route to the U.S.
As reported by The Washington Post, as of Friday, Trump was reportedly considering a horrifying plan that would prevent anyone from Central America from applying for asylum. Given that most people seeking asylum are merely trying to escape crime, gangs, and violence in their home countries, this policy move would essentially cut off lifelines for thousands of people. To deny asylum outright is not only a considerable shift in U.S. policy, but a dark stain for humanity.
For background, the Trump administration has been making it increasingly difficult for asylum seekers to actually qualify for months. While the U.S. is obligated to hear asylum claims, per international law, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that survivors of domestic abuse and gang violence would no longer qualify for asylum. Who does this leave? Basically, people who can prove that they are fleeing their countries because of fear of persecution at home.
For the administration to flat-out bar asylum claims wouldn’t be entirely out of character, but it would be a whole new level of cruelty.