Caravan migrants turn up their noses at Mexico's generous benefit package

Caravan migrants aren't exactly living up to their early billing, supposedly this time coming to seek asylum in Mexico. Actually, they're coming here.

And the flimsiness of their asylum claims lies not just in their statements of wanting 'a better life' in the U.S., but in their disdain for a generous benefit package that Mexico has ready to offer them. According to Agence France-Press:

Mexican authorities are urging the migrants to cross the border legally and offering expedited "visitor cards" that let them work and access basic health care in Mexico.

So far, 969 migrants from Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua have been registered under the program and given bracelets that they can exchange for visitor cards in five days.

But hundreds more migrants ignored the offer and crossed illegally, not content to wait in the park where the caravan has camped out in the border city of Tecun Uman, Guatemala.

"A lot of us aren't interested in waiting five days. Our goal is to reach the United States," said Alma Mendoza, a nurse and single mother making the trip with her three children.

"We don't have food, much less money. We want to reach our destination," she told AFP.

Want it, want it now. With few marketable skills, little education, no English language, and no cultural values compatible with wealth creation - such as getting married before having the baby - it seems that what these people want is someone with a big wallet to take care of them, and the U.S. fills the bill nicely.

Which doesn't exactly support any claim to asylum.

The fact that few were deported on the last caravan also made these migrants less likely to accept the Mexican offer and try their luck in Mexico. According to the Washington Post:

“The majority of those who went with the October caravan were not deported,” [a Honduran NGO worker] said. “So that sends the message back to the countries of origin, and people say, ‘Let’s go too because they won’t deport us.’ ”

Yet the Mexicans told many in the U.S. press that entry for the new caravan (unlike the last one) would be orderly, legal (with migrants presenting papers or getting turned back), visa-oriented, and carry a big prooffered packages of benefits - from jobs, to free medical care, to freedom from worry about being repatriated -  and all they had to do was sign up, take a bracelet, and wait for a mere five days.

And that just wasn't good enough for a lot of them.

Which raises questions about 'first country of refuge' and 'safe country of refuge' in international law, which calls on refugees to accept the first country of refuge. The generous offer from Mexico suggests that Mexico is trying to be a first country of refuge and offer the migrants a safe space. Yet if these migrants don't want that, why should any of their asylum requests be honored here? Mexico offered refuge to every one of the migrants, and at least some are turning up their noses at it.

That would make this caravan more of a country-shopping expedition, a hunt for the best bargain, than a true effort to claim asylum. How any judge in the U.S. could accept such people, as apparently some are doing, suggests a failure to recognize international law. One hopes that this time it will be obvious enough that the situation is now different.

 

Caravan migrants aren't exactly living up to their early billing, supposedly this time coming to seek asylum in Mexico. Actually, they're coming here.

And the flimsiness of their asylum claims lies not just in their statements of wanting 'a better life' in the U.S., but in their disdain for a generous benefit package that Mexico has ready to offer them. According to Agence France-Press:

Mexican authorities are urging the migrants to cross the border legally and offering expedited "visitor cards" that let them work and access basic health care in Mexico.

So far, 969 migrants from Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua have been registered under the program and given bracelets that they can exchange for visitor cards in five days.

But hundreds more migrants ignored the offer and crossed illegally, not content to wait in the park where the caravan has camped out in the border city of Tecun Uman, Guatemala.

"A lot of us aren't interested in waiting five days. Our goal is to reach the United States," said Alma Mendoza, a nurse and single mother making the trip with her three children.

"We don't have food, much less money. We want to reach our destination," she told AFP.

Want it, want it now. With few marketable skills, little education, no English language, and no cultural values compatible with wealth creation - such as getting married before having the baby - it seems that what these people want is someone with a big wallet to take care of them, and the U.S. fills the bill nicely.

Which doesn't exactly support any claim to asylum.

The fact that few were deported on the last caravan also made these migrants less likely to accept the Mexican offer and try their luck in Mexico. According to the Washington Post:

“The majority of those who went with the October caravan were not deported,” [a Honduran NGO worker] said. “So that sends the message back to the countries of origin, and people say, ‘Let’s go too because they won’t deport us.’ ”

Yet the Mexicans told many in the U.S. press that entry for the new caravan (unlike the last one) would be orderly, legal (with migrants presenting papers or getting turned back), visa-oriented, and carry a big prooffered packages of benefits - from jobs, to free medical care, to freedom from worry about being repatriated -  and all they had to do was sign up, take a bracelet, and wait for a mere five days.

And that just wasn't good enough for a lot of them.

Which raises questions about 'first country of refuge' and 'safe country of refuge' in international law, which calls on refugees to accept the first country of refuge. The generous offer from Mexico suggests that Mexico is trying to be a first country of refuge and offer the migrants a safe space. Yet if these migrants don't want that, why should any of their asylum requests be honored here? Mexico offered refuge to every one of the migrants, and at least some are turning up their noses at it.

That would make this caravan more of a country-shopping expedition, a hunt for the best bargain, than a true effort to claim asylum. How any judge in the U.S. could accept such people, as apparently some are doing, suggests a failure to recognize international law. One hopes that this time it will be obvious enough that the situation is now different.