I am not an expert on the “migrant caravan” moving through Central America with the U.S. southern border as its destination. But then, I don’t think anybody who isn’t in it or following it in person is much of an expert either, although plenty think they are.
I also seriously doubt that we are getting the whole truth about it from those reporting on it – how it started, how it’s moving and how it is being supported.
Everybody, including big media companies, has an agenda. And that agenda is to tell the truth, but not the whole truth, in order to push a narrative: Either we’re being overrun by terrorists, or the U.S. is the cruelest, most heartless country in the world if it enforces its immigration laws.
So, from the left, if there are migrants being transported on vehicles, we will almost never see it. Much better video to show them walking. If there is outside money flowing to Pueblo Sin Fronteras (People Without Borders), or to former Honduran lawmaker and activist Bartolo Fuentes, who have been reported by multiple outlets as organizers of the caravan, you can be pretty sure it will not be investigated with nearly the energy put into whether members of the Trump administration have any financial ties to Russia.
From the right, President Trump deserves much of the outrage and criticism he is getting when he declares that the caravan is infiltrated with Middle Eastern terrorists and that Democrats are paying migrants to launch the caravan to coincide with the mid-term elections in less than two weeks.
As they correctly note, this is yet more of Trump making claims, “without evidence.”
Although, I would expect allegedly skeptical journalists to raise and investigate such questions themselves, including the timing. Why now? Why not a couple of months ago? Why not a month from now?
Trump doesn’t have evidence for his claims, but so far, I haven’t seen media heavyweights present airtight evidence that he’s wrong either.
Do they have proof that the timing of pulling together of 7,000-plus people was entirely random? Have they done some rigorous examination of Pueblo Sin Frontera’s structure and financing?
And could we get some details on logistics? You don’t put that many people on the road for thousands of miles without some planning for food, trash, human waste, etc.
How quickly are they all moving? At a walking pace, or are they making only the kind of progress that vehicles would provide?
Beyond that, however, I think the most frustrating thing for most Americans is that an event like this illustrates that everybody loves to go on TV and talk about how our immigration system is “broken” but aren’t willing to offer specifics about how they would fix it.
Republicans, who have had majorities in both houses of Congress for the past four years, haven’t passed legislation proposed by Trump to build a border wall or to toughen asylum standards – or anything else.
Democrats constantly say anybody who supports legal immigration, but is opposed to illegal immigration is flat-out anti-immigrant. They like to say they favor the amorphous phrase, “humane border enforcement.”
Which raises a fair and logical question: What exactly does that mean?
Does it mean that every caravan of people who would be better off in the U.S. should be allowed in? If you make it across the border, then you can stay? If so, then say so publicly and campaign on it.
Do they support Pueblo Sin Frontera and other organizations that say the U.S. shouldn’t even have borders because having them is cruel and racist? Does the motto on the Statue of Liberty, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free …” mean today what it never meant before – that anyone who makes it across the border should be allowed to stay? Then say so and campaign on it.
Democrats, like Republicans for the past four years, could have done whatever they liked with immigration laws during the first two years of the Obama presidency – passed legislation that made the entire country a “sanctuary” for those who come illegally.
Why not? Perhaps because these are some of the things they were saying just a few years ago, and if they came out of Trump’s mouth today, they would cite them as proof that he is a racist, white supremacist.
President Obama (back in 2005, before he ran for the office): “We are a generous and welcoming people here in the United States, but those who enter the country illegally and those who employ them disrespect the rule of law, and they are showing disregard for those following the law. We simply cannot allow people to pour into the United States undetected, undocumented, unchecked, and circumventing the line of people who are waiting patiently, diligently and lawfully to become immigrants in this country.”
Hillary Clinton: "Just because your child gets across the border, that doesn't mean your child gets to stay."
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer: "People who enter the U.S. without our permission are illegal aliens, and illegal aliens should not be treated the same as people who enter the U.S. legally. ... When we use phrases like 'undocumented workers,' we convey to the American people that their government is not serious about combatting illegal immigration. ... It is illegal and wrong."
If those three, and other Democratic leaders, would say the same things today, there might be a chance to work with Republicans – you know, the bipartisanship everybody says they want – to fix an immigration system that is, indeed, broken.
Taylor Armerding is an independent columnist. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org