Central American Caravans Are Not Organic Migrations, What Forces Are Behind Them?

The unusual migration patterns of the unaccompanied minor crisis of 2014 and the migrant caravans arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border suggest that these mass mobilizations are not essentially organic. Key forces and actors have guided children and families to the border in an organized manner. We began identifying these forces in October 2013 through interviews with hundreds of migrants along Mexico's migrant routes and in some U.S. cities.These mass movements have had a tremendous negative impact on Mexico's economy and social fabric, but very few voices from Mexico have been able to reach the dominating U.S./international media. Meanwhile, traditional Mexican migrant support networks continue providing services to families and unaccompanied minors who cross through Mexico seeking asylum and in search of the American dream.A different discourse on immigration has emerged in the United States as a result of the caravanization of Central American migration. This discourse distorts reality and serves the political and economic purposes of various groups. The Trump administration, politicians of the two major political parties, pseudo-activists, Central American elites and transnational companies doing business in key territories of the Northern Triangle all seek to benefit from this human tragedy.We, as natives of Mexico, have hypotheses based on years of interacting with migrants in their quest to reach America. No complex scientific methodology is needed to demonstrate that the northbound caravans are neither organic, nor spontaneous, nor the result of a dramatic event, such as a natural disaster or a political crisis like that in Venezuela or Nicaragua. However we still need to acknowledge the push factors of this irregular migration as well as the vulnerability of those who seek to escape from violence, extreme poverty or a lack of economic opportunity.Migrant rights defenders recognize new, perverse dynamics and specific caravan organizers, such as Pueblo Sin Fronteras. Particular interests are promoting the caravanization of Central American immigration.The caravan phenomenon marks a crucial moment: a new administration in Mexico coinciding with President Donald Trump, who waves his flag for re-election by vowing to build a wall.Illegal and criminal actors profit from this non-organic migration through human smuggling, extortion, kidnapping and human trafficking. Organized crime and corrupt officials are directly involved. Pseudo-activists and immigration attorneys also benefit from this human tragedy. A network analysis of actors could shed light in this direction.Transnational corporations have always been interested in touristic enterprises in key territories or resource-rich lands of Central America, once highly populated and now partially emptied due to forced migration. The construction of Trump's wall and other development projects near the border likely will attract American and international contractors.Power and money appear to be at the forefront of an explanation regarding the humanitarian crises at Mexico's northern and southern borders. However, we must not forget that we are talking about human beings. We invite politicians, government officials and the civil society in the Americas to assume a conscious constructive posture toward migration.Alejandro Solalinde is a priest, the founder and director of the migrant shelter Hermanos en el Camino in Mexico, and a finalist for the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize.Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera is an associate professor of government and policy at George Mason University. They wrote this column for The Dallas Morning News.  Continue reading...

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