A friend posted this above a picture of the migrant convoy making its way from Honduras through Mexico right now: “This is happening now. Trump has to make a decision. What would you do?”
In recent days a flood of migrants showed up on a bridge between Guatemala and Mexico. Eventually, they made their way through into southern Mexico, bound and determined to find their way to America, an America that does not want them. It’s a very, very long walk. I wonder what they will eat or drink along the way? How will they survive? They’re not carrying much, and I’m pretty sure “for everything else, there’s MasterCard,” does not apply.
Nearly all the Canadian and American population is made of up immigrants and their descendants, myself included, so it’s mighty rich for any of us who are not First Nations to say, “Whoa, boy, we don’t want you here.”
And yet the reality is a nation cannot allow its borders to be porous. There has to be some sort of control, or you’re not really much of a nation, are you?
This caravan is apparently growing. CBC reported on October 22 it had reached 5,000 people. If it does keep growing, it will soon be larger than the size of our raiding party on the beaches of Dieppe in 1942. That’s not a handful of people. It’s an invasion, a literal invasion.
And, simply put, nations cannot allow invasions. The response to an invasion is with your military, and that’s exactly what President Donald Trump is talking about.
Oh, but have a heart, people say. And I generally agree. I don’t think those people are walking the length of nearly all of Central America and Mexico because they had nothing to do on a weekend. They are desperate, and they see hope in America.
And while America has been trying to control its southern border, the reality is they have not been effective, as evidenced by the millions upon millions of people who have come to the U.S. illegally over the years. The southwest U.S. economy simply wouldn’t function without these people.
So back to Trump: this caravan plays directly into his narrative. “Build a wall,” he’s been saying.
What would you do with this convoy, as president? No nicey, nicey talk. What concrete action would you do when faced with a literal invasion?
If you’re Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, you put out a stupid tweet, and over the next several years Canada sees the RCMP arresting people at the border between New York and Quebec. A man loses most of his fingers to frostbite crossing illegally into Manitoba in the middle of winter. The provinces complain they are overwhelmed. Gee, I wonder why?
So Trump has to do something. But what?
If he pulls a Trudeau, the flood will become a tsunami. It won’t be four or five thousand people at a time. It might be 20,000. Why wouldn’t a huge chunk of Central America just start walking north? Have you seen the drug violence in Mexico? The abject poverty? The repression of various regimes in “banana republics” going back to, well, forever? What would be holding you back?
Its not like people have not arrived in North America by the thousands before. In Canada, it was at Pier 21 in Halifax. In America, it was Ellis Island in New York. Ships showed up and disgorged hundreds at a time. A quick perusal of the ship arrive database at pier21.ca shows how common it was for ships to show up with 600 to 700 passengers at a time, and you can bet most of those were one-way trips.
But those sites were controlled. Governments largely knew what was going on, at least at these points.
But one might argue that, at least for America, they never did really know how many people have been crossing the Rio Grande.
We are very rapidly reaching the halfway point in the first Trump administration. How much has he actually been able to accomplish on this front? Did his wall get built? No. Is it going to get built? Will it stop the flood? Will anything short of machine-gunning people at the border stop the flood?
Trump, like President Barrack Obama before him, is faced with a no-win situation. Nothing will stop this tide, short of bullets. No wall, no deportations. Not even the atrocious act of splitting up families. There is no solution that will work.
And yet he has to do something. So again, what would you do?