Letters: Central American asylum seekers are Mexico’s responsibility, not America’s

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Abby Vander Graaf’s article “Trump is to blame for violence surrounding migrant caravan” has furthered the misleading media narrative that the Central American migrant caravan are legitimate asylum seekers who deserve to be given refuge in the United States. While the impulse to be compassionate towards the caravan is understandable, the facts do not back the idea that these people are fleeing an abattoir back home. The article also fails to grapple with any potential benefits of leaving the migrant caravan in Tijuana.


Vander Graaf begins her article by defining what an asylum seeker is. She writes that asylum seekers are those who wish “to avoid the dangers in their native countries.” The problem, of course, is that the simple intention of declaring asylum does not make someone a legitimate asylum seeker. According to one report, up to 70 percent of asylum applications have been found to be either fraudulent or having a strong indication of fraud.

While it is indisputable that the caravan intends to declare asylum, intention alone does not make them legitimate asylum seekers. Indeed, nearly three quarters of the caravan, according to the deputy chief patrol agent of the Border Patrol’s San Diego sector, are men; the Department of Homeland Security also confirms this claim. On the ground reports by Fox News contributor Sara Carter and MSNBC provide further evidence that the caravan is predominately male. This does not sound like the demographics of a deracinated people: Generally speaking, refugees tend to be disproportionately women and children, not men. Women make up over half of American Syrian refugees, for example, and children under aged 11 and younger make up 38.5 percent.

Even if the caravan’s asylum claims are deemed legitimate, this does not mean the United States is required to take them in. To the contrary, international law states that Mexico, not the United States, should bear the burden of Central American asylum claims.

Even if the caravan’s asylum claims are deemed legitimate, this does not mean the United States is required to take them in. To the contrary, international law states that Mexico, not the United States, should bear the burden of Central American asylum claims.

Within the European Union, courts have ruled that European refugees must declare asylum in the first European country they reach. This is based on a European principle known as the Dublin Regulation. This legal principle does not just apply to the European Union, however. The EU’s Dublin Regulation is simply further codification of the UN’s refugee protocol.

All around the world, the norm is that asylum seekers must apply for asylum in the first safe country they enter. Even in the United States, there are cases of American Border Patrol agents asking migrants to file their asylum claims in Mexico first before being permitted entry into the country. Unfortunately, the agents who did this were forced to endure obloquy despite following international protocol. Why is it that the United States is criticized for simply following the rules every other nation has to play by?

Not only are the caravan’s claim to asylum likely specious, but there are many policy reasons why the United States government should push to keep the caravan in Tijuana—at least for now.

Taking in the migrants would be economically costly. Assuming the caravan is approximately 9,200 individuals strong, the U.S. government would incur northward of 1.7 million dollars per day in costs if we were forced to detain and process the entire caravan, according to one estimate. According to the same report, total detention costs could be anywhere between $43 million and $76 million in the short-run. This estimate does not include long-run costs on social services that taking in thousands of poor migrants would necessarily entail.

The Central American migrant problem can almost entirely be traced to inaction on the part of the United States Government. Had we simply followed international protocol, the caravan would have likely simply stayed in Mexico rather than marching northward simply to be turned back. After the violent encounter with Border Patrol, many caravan members are expressing an interest in returning home. Other reports suggest the migrants in the caravan have a renewed interest in staying in Mexico. The temptation to tergiversate on our promise to not let the caravan in would be contrary to American interests, as it would simply encourage more caravans to come.

It is hard to remain level-headed and analyze the facts when discussing immigration, but it is imperative that we strive to do so. Getting the facts right is important, and the facts on the caravan run contrary to what we are being spoon-fed by the establishment media.

Alexander Adams, junior economics major 


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