So What’s With The Timing of the Caravan?

A group of Central American migrants wade across the Suchiate River, on the the border between Guatemala and Mexico, in Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico, Saturday, Oct. 20, 2018. After Mexican authorities slowed access through... A group of Central American migrants wade across the Suchiate River, on the the border between Guatemala and Mexico, in Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico, Saturday, Oct. 20, 2018. After Mexican authorities slowed access through the border bridge to a crawl, hundreds of migrants began boarding rafts or wading across the river and crossing into Mexico illegally. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo) MORE LESS

So what’s with the timing of this caravan making its way up through Mexico? A lot of readers have been asking me this and I’ve been wondering myself.

There’s no mystery about the existence of the caravan itself. Immigration from Central America through Mexico into the United States has been a growing phenomenon in recent years. Migrants are fleeing not only economic privation but a horrific level of state breakdown and endemic violence. In many cases, people, often children, are literally fleeing for their lives. There have been caravans before. Some have garnered significant news attention in the US. Despite President Trump’s claims about their being hordes of criminals and “middle easterners” the main point of the caravans is to have some safety in numbers. Migrants are preyed upon rather than predators.

But still … we’re two weeks out from the November election and this group, numbering in the thousands, has just crossed into Mexico. It does seem almost timed to arrive right on election day and provide made to order images for Trump to rail against in the final days. So what’s the story?

I took some time today to talk to a number of people who are either involved in immigration politics in the US or have area knowledge that gives them insight into migration pattern from Mexico and Central America. I got a pretty consistent response: a lot of suspicion as to why this is happening right now but also no evidence to suggest anything untoward behind it or any effort to coincide with the election.

Indeed, one source I spoke to, who has knowledge of migration patterns out of Central America in recent years, told me it’s not implausible that the organizers just aren’t or weren’t tuned into the fact that this is probably the worst possible time to do this. And by worst possible time, I mean not for its impact on the US election but for the incentives President Trump and the US government have to impose the maximum degree of brutality on the migrants – whether that’s by pressuring Mexican authorities to do their dirty work for them or creating cruelty and immiseration spectacles at the US border.

I have suspicions, many of us have suspicions. But if you have specific knowledge that’s relevant to this, please drop me a line.

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