Date: October 23, 2018
Host: Jim Schneider
Guest: Chris Chmielenski
Listen: MP3 | Order
Thousands of people from Honduras spontaneously came together to embark on a 2,000 mile march to the U.S. where they expect jobs, social services and education. Well, at least that’s what some in the media would lead people to believe.
Regardless of how it started, we do know that a caravan from Central America is making its way to the United States. Should any concern be from a humanitarian perspective or should we be concerned about national security?
Joining Jim to look at this situation was Chris Chmielenski, the Deputy Director of Content and Activism at NumbersUSA.
According to Chris, the caravan originated in Honduras. These are typically organized efforts, backed by groups that tend to oppose national and international borders and sovereignty. There’s also an alternative motive and Chris believes it involves exploiting differences between the two sides in the immigration debate.
Jim noted that the cost per migrant is running about $7,000. Chris said there have been images and video of people in the caravan being handed money. When they reached the Guatemala/Mexico border and they were blocked, human smugglers helped them get across a river so the smugglers needed to be paid. Then there are the possible scouts running in advance of the caravan to make sure it doesn’t run into trouble. Those individuals need to be paid as well. Once the caravan reaches territory controlled by the drug cartels, they’ll also demand payment so that the people can pass through safely. Chris said there’s big financial backing here but who or what that source is we don’t know for sure.
The latest population estimates for the caravan have been about 5,000 but he’s also heard it could 14,000. Now that it’s in Mexico, people have been joining the caravan. Continuing increases in size just makes it more of a spectacle as it makes its way to the U.S.
Chris believes this issue has the potential to have an impact on the mid-term elections, although he’s seen one poll that indicates a majority of Americans want the caravan stopped before it enters the U.S.
If the caravan manages to cross the border into the U.S., will that empower future caravan attempts? Are members of ISIS embedded in the caravan? How does U.S. law and international law define what a refugee or an asylum seeker is? What’s Mexico’s place in this? Does President Trump have both the constitutional and statutorial right to use the military to shut down the border when the caravan arrives? These and other questions are answered on this important edition of Crosstalk.