By U.S. Congressman Jason Smith
Eighth District, Missouri
As I write this, a 7,000-person migrant caravan is marching across Mexico towards the United States’ southern border. From the politicians that helped inspire and form the caravan to the immigration holes it highlights, it should serve as a wakeup call showing our need for a more secure border. It’s a massive, unprecedented look in slow motion at almost every aspect that makes up our broken immigration system.
What began as political mischief in one country has created an immigration crisis for countries along the caravan’s path. The opposition party in Honduras, upset that it lost the presidential election, helped organize the massive caravan to embarrass their country’s president and have threatened to send more caravans after it. Honduras leftist politician Luis Redondo wrote on Facebook, “This time it will be so big that when they see everyone walking, they should ask, ‘Where are they coming from and who is responsible for so many people leaving Honduras?’”
The caravan created a crisis in Mexico, where thousands entered the country illegally. Even after being warned that anyone caught crossing the Mexican border would be deported, the caravan attempted to overwhelm hundreds of federal police officers and eventually crossed into the country illegally by tearing down border fences and building makeshift rafts.
We’re still learning exactly who is in the caravan approaching our southern border, but the Department of Homeland Security says it has confirmed some members include gang members and people with significant criminal histories. One member of the caravan, speaking to the press, said he’s been deported six times and said, “That’s just how it is…they catch you, and you try to get back.” Caravan members have been clear about their plan to cross the U.S. border illegally, saying “It’s easier through the desert than the river.” A second caravan with more than 2,000 members formed this week in Honduras, confident that the first caravan will be able to parade through the United States’ border.
Unfortunately, there are even Members of Congress who support this behavior over supporting the men and women who work every day to protect the border and stop drugs and criminals from entering our country. The supporters of open borders have undermined America’s immigration system at every line of defense: They’ve encouraged illegal immigrants to stay in the country by pushing for sanctuary cities which defy federal immigration law, proposed abolishing Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) entirely, and some states are now allowing illegal immigrants to vote in their elections.
I support President Trump and his unflinching commitment to protect our country and its borders. The caravan has already violated Mexico’s laws and sovereignty, but President Trump and his administration have made clear he won’t stand for it in the U.S. and urged the caravan to go through the proper immigration channels. Catching, processing, and vetting more than 7,000 people spread out across hundreds of miles of an under-secured border is a heavy task and will require additional border security and law enforcement. It will be burdensome for the immigration court system, which is already overwhelmed with 764,000 pending cases. This all shows the need for a stronger, more secure southern border protected with physical barriers.
The United States cannot allow this flagrant disrespect against our immigration laws and sovereignty. I applaud President Trump for standing strong against the radicals who believe anyone and everyone should be able to enter the United States unchecked. The world is watching this unprecedented caravan approach our border, and President Trump is doing the right thing by showing the caravan and the world that our laws and our country deserve respect.