Take a Stand: Protect the Rights of Asylum Seekers in "Migrant Caravan"

Last month, a group of people of all ages and genders from San Pedro Sula, Honduras began a long, dangerous journey in hopes of reaching Mexico or the United States to gain asylum. Along the way, they were joined by thousands from other parts of Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. While individual motivations may differ, common reasons for those making this trek include escaping violence and poverty in their home countries.

Sadly, the danger will not end for members of the caravan if they reach the border. Instead, members will face yet another obstacle in their journey for safety: the “zero tolerance” policy that allows our government to inhumanely rip apart families and detain people indefinitely. Although we should be offering aid to members of the caravan, our administration has instead resorted to threats of violence and fear-mongering. In Trump’s recent tweets about the migrant caravan, he refers to them as “bad thugs” and “gang members.” Yet, there has been no evidence of violence from this group. In turn, such language only incites unfounded prejudices, which the administration hopes to capitalize on to further their own political agenda. Already, the migrant caravan dominates conversations surrounding the midterm elections, and certain individuals are using baseless or even misinformation about the caravan to garner support for the GOP and its immigration policies. Trump promises to send thousands of troops by the end of the week, with the New York Times reporting that 1,000 military personnel have already been deployed.

By criminalizing asylum seekers, our government violates fundamental human rights. According to the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (signed by the United States), migrants have the right to apply for asylum regardless of how they enter the country. In these grave times when our government fails to acknowledge human rights and protect those in need, we must take a stand. A few ways you can take action include voting in this midterm election, educating yourself and others on the issue, writing/signing petitions, contacting your Representatives/Senators to voice your opposition, donating to organizations (such as Physicians for Human Rights) that help families and individuals at the border seek justice, and/or volunteering with us at the LAHRI to help out with pro bono forensic evaluations for asylum seekers.


1. Cooper H and Gibbons-Neff T. (Oct 2018). They’re trained for war. Now American Troops are Headed to the U.S. Border. NYT. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/30/us/politics/american-troops-border-migrants.html

2. Peters JW. (Oct 2018). How Trump-fed conspiracy theories about migrant caravan intersect with deadly hatred. NYT. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/29/us/politics/caravan-trump-shooting-elections.html

3. (Oct 2018). Migrant caravan: what is it and why does it matter? BBC News. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-45951782

4. Ahmed A, Rogers K, and Ernst J. (Oct 2018). How the migrant caravan became a Trump Election Strategy. NYT. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/24/world/americas/migrant-caravan-trump.html

5. Caldwell, AA and Youssef NA. (Oct 2018). Trump to deploy 5,200 troops to the southern border. WSJ.https://www.wsj.com/articles/military-to-deploy-5-000-troops-to-southern-border-u-s-officials-say-1540820650

Emily Chu