A meme circulated on social media starting in mid-October 2018 inaccurately claimed that the whole of a Central American migrant caravan making its way from Honduras through southern Mexico toward the United States had spurned an offer of “jobs, medical care and education” offered by the Mexican president:
The caravan, which left Honduras on 12 October 2018, became a major focus for President Donald Trump, who invoked it to denigrate his Democratic political foes in the lead-up to the 2018 U.S. midterm elections. Trump vowed to refuse entry to the caravan and sent active duty military to the border, and he stepped up pressure on Mexico and Central American countries to halt its progress, threatening to cut off foreign aid if they did not:
Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador were not able to do the job of stopping people from leaving their country and coming illegally to the U.S. We will now begin cutting off, or substantially reducing, the massive foreign aid routinely given to them.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 22, 2018
Contrary to what the meme stated, some travelers with the caravan did accept an offer proposed by Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto for temporary identification papers and jobs. The Reuters news agency reported on 27 October 2018 that some 1,700 caravan members had applied for asylum in Mexico, while others had returned to their home countries or rejected the offer:
More than 1,700 people in the convoy have applied for asylum, while others have returned home, according to Mexico’s government. The Honduran ambassador said the group officially had 3,500 members. Other estimates go much higher.
By Saturday, more than 100 Honduran migrants opted to seek refugee status and enter the temporary work program proposed by President Enrique Pena Nieto on Friday, said Mexico’s National Migration Institute. Many others rejected the offer.
To qualify for the program, dubbed “Estas en Tu Casa” (“You Are Home”), migrants had to be in Mexico’s southern states of Chiapas or Oaxaca. Many of the migrants did turn down the offer, however, stating their goal was to reach the United States.
The caravan was the target of large amounts of misinformation and fear-mongering as it became a U.S. election wedge issue, despite the fact that the travelers were on foot and hundreds of miles away from the U.S. in southern Mexico.
- Schrank, Delphine. “Central American Caravan Moves on in Spite of Mexico Jobs Offer.”
Reuters. 27 October 2018.
- Reuters. “Mexico Offers Temporary Permits to Caravan Migrants Seeking Asylum.”
26 October 2018.
- Morrisey, Kate. “Should Asylum Seekers Heading to the U.S. Stay in Mexico?”
San Diego Union Tribune. 21 May 2018.
- Rosas, Erika Guevara. “Six Reasons Why Mexico Should Not Sign a Shady Agreement with the US.”
Amnesty International. 28 August 2018.
- Lakhani, Nina. “Asylum Applications in Mexico Have Soared 150% Since Trump’s Election.”
The Guardian. 18 April 2017.
- Fleury, Anjali. “Fleeing to Mexico for Safety: The Perilous Journey for Migrant Women.”
United Nations University. 4 May 2016.
Published 7 November 2018