Mounds of garbage, squalor and mess: Caravan moves on, leaving Tijuana its detritus

The caravan has moved on, with Tijuana authorities now housing the 7,000 Central American migrants in a far more civilized compound than the squalid Superdome after Katrina-style housing they had occupied.

Daily Wire's excellent Ryan Saavedra has a report on what the place looked like, writing:

Caravan migrants from Central America that are stuck in Tijuana, Mexico are reportedly trashing the area, leaving behind bottles of urine and mountains of trash.

The news comes as migrants are facing increasing backlash and negative attitudes from local Mexican residents, as the overwhelming majority of Mexican residents – 73% – hold negative views towards the migrants, according to a poll from the Mexican newspaper El Universal.

The Fox News video Saavedra cited is here:

Any surprise the Tijuana people don't like this?

It rather speaks to a lack of social capital to see people unable to clean up after themselves.  Tea Party groups always cleaned up after themselves, while Occupy protesters famously didn't.  The failure to clean up points to a lack of ownership (even of one's own behavior), and a refusal to care about how one's behavior affects a community's surroundings.  When a person just uses resources without caring about how he treats them, that is what early free-market economists called "the tragedy of the commons."  People who own things keep them nice and maintained.  People who don't and who expect others to bear the cost usually just let them go to hell.  You see that a lot in places where people don't have property rights, as economist Hernando de Soto noted in "The Mystery of Capital," which speaks to the reality of being outsiders.  And, well, caravan migrants are now Exhibit.

The caravan migrants, however, are guests in Mexico, so what also stands out here is that they don't seem to see themselves as guests, for whom polite behavior or clean habits are de rigueur.  They see Mexico as a crossing point to that land where the streets are paved with gold and treat it accordingly.  The trash suggests they don't care at all about how they're affecting their neighbors, and the waste is enough to make a greenie scream (if they weren't such hypocrites).  Perhaps that's a function of the caravan migrants' arriving uninvited into Mexico, breaking down the southern border gate to enter without papers.  Trashing a place you have that much contempt for is about par for the course. 

Now let's go back to the waste: the fact that they have so much stuff to litter with suggests they aren't as poor as the press says they are.  Based on the pictures, that level of garbage, mounds and mounds piled high, suggests a lot of money among the caravan migrants.  What is the story behind leaving behind huge wardrobes of clothing in the mud as one packs up and heads for the bus to nicer quarters in the Tijuana hinterlands to await one's asylum claims?  Do you throw away that many clothes in a year?  How is it that they had that many clothes, and were able to travel more than 1,000 miles with them?  The evidence of wealth, frankly, baffles me, given that these people are supposedly poor.

It underlines that most of the migrants are people who had money for a journey, brought lots of clothes with them, threw them out for unclear reasons, and now left them for the city of Tijuana to clean up.  In short, they are from Central America's lower middle class, not its very poor, and that makes them run-of-the-mill migrants, not charity cases the press is insisting we take in for that reason.

Here's the last thing: in this garbage, what I see missing is social capital.  Had this scenario happened with a U.S. Tea Party-type group, some of the men and women within would quickly organize a clean-up campaign and institute informal rules about trash disposal.  Even the worst slums in Latin America have informal rules; I saw that myself in Caracas.  This caravan group didn't, and nobody stepped forward – not the Pueblo Sin Fronteras leaders and not anybody else.  Does it suggest they have much social capital, the bonds of trust needed to live with one's neighbors in peace, and the capacity for succeeding in America?  Or does it suggest more garbage and mess for illegal alien-filled California cities such as Cudahy and Van Nuys?  It sounds like the latter.

With that much trash and that much material to litter with, this group has shown what it's about and seems clearly unfit for assimilation or success in the U.S.  The people want someone to take care of them, and the message is as clear as the Honduran flags they wave.

Image credit: Screen grab from Fox News.

Correction: The Superdome, not the Astrodome is where Katria victims were sheltered

If you experience technical problems, please write to