Saturday, November 10, 2018

The Latin American "caravan" is hopelessly naive

I have often wondered what the members of the so-called "caravan" of emigrants walking away from a crappy life in Honduras or El Salvador are expecting from the United States.
I can see why they would want to leave: these are lawless and dangerous failed states, where any remnants of civilized society have all but broken down. But, surely, they must know that they will not be welcome in America, the great white promised land. They must have heard of this Donald Trump guy who wants to build a great wall to keep them out, and is calling in the armed forces to deal with the imminent plague of immigrants.
Many of them have been offered sanctuary in Mexico and turned it down, charmed as they are by the allure and distant glow of some mythical Emerald City. And mythical it most certainly is: most illegal immigrants live miserable and squalid lives in the southern USA, constantly on guard against being found out and deported. Surely, they would be better off staying in Mexico, where they speak the language, where the customs and culture are at least similar to their own. OK, I understand that Mexican wages are not on a par with American wages, and that parts of Mexico are also pretty suspect from a personal security point of view. But, if Shangti-La is not available, surely it is better to settle for something at least a small step up from what they are leaving hehind?
An article in today's paper confirms my fears and gives me a glimpse into the mindset of some of the travellers. And yes, it seems that they are just hopelessly naive. Some of them literally expect to meet with Donald Trump, and they are confident that once they explain what they are running away from, and that they are willing to work long and hard in return for sanctuary, then Trump will surely let them in with his blessing, won't he? He will take pity on them once he hears their stories? At the very least, the Canadians will send a plane for them, no?
It's difficult to know where they have obtained such a skewed view of reality, perhaps from friends and relatives who made it to the Promised Land back when times were relatively good? TV shows, perhaps? Whatever the source, it's heartbreaking that they are so misinformed and so gullible. I hope things work out for them, I really do, but I fear for their well-being.

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