These columns favor generous immigration and asylum for refugees. But when migration becomes a political weapon to foment border chaos, leaders have no choice other than to step in and protect national security. Exhibit A are the 4,000 or so Central Americans moving on foot through Mexico to the U.S.
Waves of humanity marching in lock step don’t materialize spontaneously and neither has this “caravan.” This march is organized and not necessarily for the benefit of the migrants. Mr. Trump has good reason to turn it back.
Not since the 1980 Mariel boatlift from Cuba has there been a similar attempt to overwhelm U.S. immigration law on the pretext of celebrating American freedom. Thousands of Cubans made their way to Florida when Fidel Castro temporarily lifted his Havana Curtain, and American boats of every shape and size sailed into the Caribbean to collect them.
But the sheer magnitude made it impossible to process the newcomers in an orderly fashion. Castro saw to it that criminals and the mentally ill also climbed aboard the boats. No one doubted the Cuban hunger to escape, but the unintended consequences of the mayhem were costly.
A Mariel replay now seems to be coming from Honduras. Though the details are murky, we do know that former Honduran congressman Bartolo Fuentes of the left-wing Libre Party has admitted to organizing this caravan.
Libre is the party of former president Manuel Zelaya, an ally of Venezuela and Cuba who in 2009 tried to override the Honduran constitution to remain in office despite a term limit. The Honduran congress, his own party, the Supreme Court, the national ombudsman and the Catholic Church opposed his power grab. He was removed by the military and never returned to power despite the efforts of the Obama Administration.
But Mr. Zelaya remains active in politics. While center-right President Juan Orlando Hernández has encouraged Hondurans on the journey to return home and even has offered them assistance, Mr. Zelaya is egging them on.
In a press release last week, he accused Mr. Hernández of a “submissive and lackey attitude” toward “the arrogant position of the empire” and criticized Mr. Hernández’s efforts to “deepen failed economic policies” like privatization. The opposition is now calling for street protests with a threat that if Mr. Hernández does not step down, the migration wave will continue.
Mr. Fuentes, who was detained in Guatemala last week and returned to Honduras, has said he did not expect the caravan to grow so large, which raises the question of where the financing for the marchers is coming from. Criminal organizations and governments like Venezuela would benefit from chaos at the U.S. border that embarrasses the Trump Administration before the election. Many nongovernmental organizations on the left also support the migrants’ “right” to the American dream.
The reality is that bowing to this migration blackmail would produce an American political backlash that would damage the cause of legal immigration and a humane refugee policy. Think of Germany’s Angela Merkel and the 2015 flood of Middle Eastern migrants. Mr. Trump is right to seek Mexican cooperation to make clear to the migrants that, whatever their plight, they cannot stampede over America’s southern border.
— The Wall Street Journal