Here’s What the Migrant Caravan Is. And Here’s What It Isn’t.

An attempt to separate fact from ridiculous fiction

Actual migrants.

I wrote this for my friends and family on Facebook. I hope you find it more useful than most of them appear to.

Let’s talk about this caravan of migrants heading to America, and what they are and are not doing, so that we can keep talking about what matters: the issues that are important to each of us and our right to vote based on our beliefs.

The administration and the media are doing a great job of distracting us from what we should really be focusing on, which are the issues that matter.

How do they distract us? By talking about literally anything else. And also by just saying a whole bunch of stuff that sounds scary and, to the uninformed, maybe just a tad plausible?

So I’d like to discuss some of the things you might’ve heard about this migrant caravan heading to the United States, and maybe I can dispel some false notions you might have regarding their journey and how it affects our elections (it doesn’t affect them at all).


Again, actual migrants.

They aren’t coming to take your jobs.

Look, some of them may end up with jobs someday (if they are granted asylum; more on that in a second), but it’s far more likely those jobs will be the ones you and I don’t want to do.

This whole “immigrants are coming to steal our jobs” thing is a myth that goes back a long time.

It has never been true. They are coming for a better life and, if they find work, to do the things we don’t want to do — the things we consider to be beneath us — and they do those things happily.

They aren’t coming in with some nefarious plan to take over all the jobs in your neighborhood. You won’t come home from vacation to find your home taken over by a band of immigrants.

When I was growing up, my grandpa’s nursery was staffed by a group of illegal immigrants from Mexico. They did back breaking work every day for very long hours. They lived on the property in not-great housing (and by housing I mean tin shacks that were falling apart).

They weren’t paid a lot of money, and what they did make was sent back home to Mexico to feed the families they’d left behind, because they knew America was the land of opportunity.

The first thing I remember about those guys who worked my grandpa’s nursery — aside from remembering that all of them were always sweaty — was how they never stopped smiling and laughing and chattering with my dad Jimmy and uncle Jay in kinda-Spanish.

They worked so hard and made so little and they were still so happy. To them, they’d discovered an incredible opportunity that outpaced anything they could have done to provide for their families back home.

And you know what? That nursery could not have operated without them. My Dad is the hardest working man I’ve ever known, but it would’ve taken thirty clones of my Dad to keep that thing running. Me? I’m lazy.

I suspect many of you have similar stories about immigrant folks you’ve met in your lives.


They aren’t coming to “take advantage of DACA.”

This has been said about migrants before and is being dusted off again now to scare everyone.

It’s still fiction.

DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) is not some open ended law that any immigrant can take advantage of; it applies solely to a specific group of children of immigrants who have already been granted Dreamer status.

In fact, it’s not even a law; it was put into effect by the Obama administration and rescinded by the current White House occupants, both times via executive order.

And this is important: the administration has rescinded DACA. No new cases are being considered.

From the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration website:

Due to federal court orders, USCIS has resumed accepting requests to renew a grant of deferred action under DACA. USCIS is not accepting requests from individuals who have never before been granted deferred action under DACA. Until further notice, and unless otherwise provided in this guidance, the DACA policy will be operated on the terms in place before it was rescinded on Sept. 5, 2017.

The government is well aware of this. They decided to end it. This is information from their own website.

But they also know it sounds scary. And it does.

So they’ll say it until it seems like a thing that might be true.

They’ll also say the caravan was created by Democrats or George Soros or whatever. None of those things are true.


They aren’t coming to vote in the election.

If you’ve been to a polling station, you know that’s a silly notion designed to stoke our worst fears and instincts.

You know they check for identification and home addresses, and then check it again (this time by a different person), before giving you a voter number.

Put simply, it is not possible for a migrant from Honduras to arrive in America days before an election, walk into a voting station and vote. Full stop.

It does not happen. It is not going to happen, not even if 50,000 migrant caravans somehow make their way into the United States.

Fact: Voter fraud in American elections is, at best, incredibly minimal.

Despite claims that “millions” voted fraudulently in 2016, a review of the 2016 election found FOUR cases of voter impersonation.

The voting fraud commission formed to look at the 2016 election and the President’s voter fraud claims found no evidence of voter fraud — despite being formed entirely to find some sort of evidence that would make the President’s claims retroactively true— and was disbanded earlier this year.

A comprehensive study of elections from 2000–2014 found 31 instances of voter fraud out of one billion votes cast.

Actual migrants. Not terrorists or gangsters.

They aren’t members of MS-13 on their way to take over whole American towns at gunpoint.

They also aren’t “unknown Middle Easterners. This was a vague and gross description designed to conjure images of terrorists and scare us. Who would do this?

The source of these lies already admitted he has no proof, but such admissions receive 1/100th the attention and headlines that the initial claims do.

Why?

Because the outlandish initial hit is far sexier to the media than the trailing admission.

This is why the New York Times spent every waking moment on Hillary Clinton’s email server instead of reporting on things that mattered.

We clicked on those stories about emails and servers, which meant they kept giving us more of them. Repeatedly.

Traffic is the engine that drives the media and chips away at democracy.

There are reporters who have spent days trying to find evidence of those claims (they found nothing), but you likely haven’t seen any of that reporting. Why? Because it’s just not as scintillating.

But when the reporter questioned Trump on whether he has proof that Middle Easterners are in the caravan right now, the president replied, “Well, they could very well be.”
When the reporter pressed on proof once again, Trump said, “There’s no proof of anything. There’s no proof of anything. But they could very well be.”

Which means there are a lot of people who currently believe there’s proof that terrorists and gangsters are traveling to our country to take us down.

In fact, they are likely not dangerous at all, unless you believe smiling and happy children are a national emergency.

Could there be a few people with criminal records mixed into that caravan?

Sure. Of course. Just like there could be people with criminal records at HEB when I go grocery shopping, or how there could be a potential arsonist living next door to me.

It’s also why those close to actual criminals are so surprised when they find out their loved ones have done something horrible. It’s always a possibility there’s something gross hidden away behind all of us.

I don’t know for sure, though.

And here’s the important part: Because I don’t know, I can’t make assumptions based on someone’s skin color or nationality.

Because that’s racist and bigoted.

Yes, more actual migrants.

What these migrants are is a collection of people who, when faced with a choice between leaving their homes and loved ones and everything they’ve ever known or going to a place they know no longer welcomes them — a place where their children will be taken from them — still travel here hoping for any chance at a better life.

How screwed up would this country have to be to make you choose the same kind of path?


Why do they come here?

This is terribly complicated, but I’ll give you the basics: Almost all of them are from Honduras (not Mexico), with some from El Salvador and Guatemala having joined along the way. They are fleeing violence there in the hopes of claiming asylum here. And not the fictional violence you hear about on Fox News.

Honduras is terrible. The average daily homicide rate from gang-related violence in Honduras is 20 per day. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

So that’s what they’re fleeing from, even though they know there’s a chance they’ll be turned away when they arrive.

I went to Honduras over twenty years ago on a church mission trip. The poverty and every day living conditions were stark enough to stick with me to this day. It’s far worse now than it was when I visited.


“They just need to do it the right way.”

This is a common response to any discussion about the migrant caravan.

It is false.

The truth is: they ARE doing it the right way. Asylum IS the right way.

They arrive at the border and apply for asylum, which is a legal and right way to enter the US.

Their odds of making it are not good.

1,500 people started with the last big caravan in April 2018. A fraction of those remained once they reached the United States, because it’s a horrible journey fraught with danger. It’s a whole big thing when my wife and I need to travel with our two dogs for, oh, two hours. I can’t imagine being in a caravan with kids and possessions and pets and traveling thousands of miles, all while knowing it might be in vain.

And almost all who remained presented themselves at a port of entry to begin the asylum process.

Again: presenting yourself at a port of entry and claiming asylum IS the right way to do it.

According to congressional testimony, 401 migrants from that caravan presented themselves for asylum. Of those, federal officials determined that 93% (374) passed the first test for an asylum claim — they had a verifiable fear of returning to their home country.

The overwhelming majority of these migrants were trying to do things the right way.

Consider this: They come here knowing there’s a good chance they’ll be sent back home to a violent, awful country. They come knowing there’s a chance their kids may be taken away from them, put in cages and then sent somewhere and lost in the system. They know there’s a chance they may never see their kids again.

And yet they still come.


Not pictured: law enforcement checking for non-existent voter fraud

Law enforcement officers are not at voting stations looking for criminals or people trying to vote illegally.

In fact, many American states, counties and districts (Texas is not part of this group, sadly) have laws preventing peace officers from moving within 100 feet of the doors of a polling station unless they are called in for an incident.

These laws are in place so that voters don’t stay away from voting because they have a warrant they haven’t taken care of and are afraid of being arrested, or so they don’t feel like they are being intimidated into voting a certain way.

An “incident” does not mean “voter fraud,” either — it means the normal kind of incidents peace officers get called in for.

You can see for yourself. Go to your polling place. See if there are any peace officers searching for criminals or checking ID cards. See if there are any peace officers at all.

Take a deep breath. Then vote.


In Closing

If you read this far, I’m grateful. Seriously. 90% of the people who see this link will either ignore it or leave a comment giving their opinion without reading it. So if you’ve read to this point, I thank you.

And to you, I say this:

Don’t listen to the noise.

Ignore the stuff that doesn’t matter.

Don’t be scared.

Seize on your beliefs. Read about the candidates that closely align with those beliefs.

But don’t just read media reports or the things those candidates say on television; research what they’ve actually done in real governing actions.

Go through their voting records.

See where they get their money and what they spend it on at the Federal Election Commission database.

If they tell you they support something you believe in, don’t take them at their word. Go read it for yourself. Most of it is public information, and it’s available to you for free.

Politicians will say anything to get your vote. They’ll pretend they never supported something they used to support, just because it’s not politically wise for them now.

Like this, for example:

This one is really strange, because it requires us to forget how the attempts made less than a year ago to repeal the ACA (which didn’t work out) led to the administration’s ongoing attempts to get rid of pre-existing conditions.

And if you think I’m intimating that Republicans are the only ones who lie, think again, or have one look at Nancy Pelosi’s fact-checking log. Yes, Democratic politicians lie, too, though perhaps not with as much zeal as the President.

Every politician lies. They lie because they don’t think you care enough to seek out the truth. Prove them wrong.


And most importantly: don’t vote for someone just because they’re in the party you identify with.

I voted yesterday. Cool for me. I got the sticker and everything.

Those of you who know me probably think I walked in there, hit “straight Democratic ticket” and walked out.

But I didn’t vote along a straight party line. I voted for each race, from Senator down to school board, based on how closely they aligned with my beliefs. I did this after exhaustive research into each candidate.

I urge all of you to do the same.

Be an informed, reasoned voter.

It’s your right. Make it count.