We must not let fear drive our immigration debate.

Central American migrants traveling with the annual Stations of the Cross caravan march to call for migrants' rights and protest the policies of U.S. President Donald Trump and Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez, in Matias Romero, Oaxaca State, Mexico, Tuesday, April 3, 2018. (AP Photo/Felix Marquez)Central American migrants traveling with the annual Stations of the Cross caravan march to call for migrants' rights and protest the policies of U.S. President Donald Trump and Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez, in Matias Romero, Oaxaca State, Mexico, Tuesday, April 3, 2018. (AP Photo/Felix Marquez)

Once again, our emotions have gotten the best of us on immigration.

This time, it is that caravan. Almost a week ago, Buzzfeed reported on a group of mostly Honduran immigrants who were making their way through Mexico. Pueblo Sin Fronteras, an immigrants’ rights group, organizes the caravan each year to draw attention to violence in Central America.

Advertisement

But this year was different. The story about the caravan caught President Trump’s attention. Sure enough, he used the caravan to justify building a stronger border wall.

Once again, our emotions have gotten the best of us on immigration.

“The big Caravan of People from Honduras, now coming across Mexico and heading to our ‘Weak Laws’ Border, had better be stopped before it gets there,” Mr. Trump tweeted.

Buzzfeed has since reported that many from the caravan have been given asylum in Mexico, while others will continue the trek to Mexico City. Only those with “valid asylum claims” will travel to the U.S.-Mexico border.

The caravan has done more to power the Trump administration’s call for border security than to highlight the violence in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. Yesterday, Mr. Trump said he would send the military to guard the border.

[Sign up for Convivir, a new newsletter from America Media. Each week, it will highlight news, culture and trends related to Latino Catholics. To receive this important expert analysis in your inbox, sign up here.]

It is convenient to blame one person for all this anti-immigrant rhetoric. But it goes far beyond one person. The rhetoric is also fueled by fears of what this nation may become as it grows more Latino or simply less white.

Millions of Americans support Mr. Trump. His Real Clear Politics approval average is above 40 percent. It is foolish to brush away his views on immigration as out of touch with middle America.

It is also foolish to think a border wall will stop this country from becoming more Latino. Two-thirds of our nation’s 57 million Latinos were born in the United States, and more than half of the undocumented immigrants in the United States are here because they overstayed their visas. A border wall will not stop that.

It is foolish to think a border wall will stop this country from becoming more Latino.

Latinos are not all “bad hombres,” though there may be some. Supporters of Mr. Trump are not all racists, though there may also be some. Such stereotypes are products of emotions, not logic.

This immigration stalemate will not be broken by anger. The solution will not come about by giving into our fears. It is long overdue for us to set aside our emotions and partisanship and find a way forward.

Our fear of the unknown and anger toward each other can be vanquished only through genuine encounters. We must push past caricatures and try to understand those with whom we disagree. This issue is ripping our country and our continent apart.

[Want to discuss politics with other America readers? Join our Facebook discussion group, moderated by America’s writers and editors.]

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
J Cosgrove
6 months 2 weeks ago

Once again, our emotions have gotten the best of us on immigration

And the author is again guilty of basing his arguments on emotions. Or is it threats now?

We must push past caricatures and try to understand those with whom we disagree. This issue is ripping our country and our continent apart.

Yes. I agree and the first place to start is to get rid of the fear mongering and shaming by the authors of America. Let each author put on the table what he or she believes the US immigration policy should be by basing their recommendation on what has worked in other places in the world. Make sure it is reasonable. Hint open borders is not a viable option.

The caravan has done more to power the Trump administration’s call for border security than to highlight the violence in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.

Authors on America have done little to discuss the origins of the violence in Central America. Hint why are we not talking about Costa Rica? And what should be the types of government in the countries from which these illegal immigrants are coming so that they will not feel a need to leave. What caused the terrible governments?

They are all so-called Catholic countries. What is it about Catholic countries that creates bad government and chaos? These are the most violent countries in the world that the author is asking us to open our arms too.

Is it Latino culture that is so toxic? If so are the authors recommending to all immigrants from Latin countries abandon their culture when they come here.

When all these issues are answered then any author on America recommending a change in immigration policy will have some credibility.

Hohn Menchaca
6 months 2 weeks ago

I am a Latino physician so the onslaught of Latino immigrants legal or otherwise will not impact me dirctly but I am concerned about the impact on my native born Latino fellow citizens who because of previous policies by local governments ended up in poor neighborhoods with their attendant poor schools that are poorly funded resulting in unacceptable college readiness rates thereby severely limiting their economic opportunities . When the huge numbers of immigrant children are added to the school rolls and very little additional funds are made available then we have more unacceptable results. I thought charity begins at home. If the native Latino citizens were triving then I would feel comfortable sharing our largesse but on average it does not exist.

E.Patrick Mosman
6 months 2 weeks ago

"It is long overdue for us to set aside our emotions and partisanship and find a way forward."
While we can set aside our emotions we should not have to set aside the fact that United States proudly proclaims that the country is a nation of laws and illegal immigration from any country and for any reason breaks that basic principle.
The way forward is simple, obey the immigration laws of the United States, that is the legal, practical and non-emotional solution to the immigration problem.

Lisa Weber
6 months 2 weeks ago

This nation needs a fruitful dialogue about immigration. It has not been helpful to have an ignorant and hateful man in the White House who works to increase every division, coarsen public dialogue, and proceed with political moves intended to offend other countries. A big part of the horror show that is the Trump administration is that it has made the ugliness of racism very visible.

jeny Sabir
6 months 2 weeks ago

So we have decided to have the choices cheats online when we are looking to get the diamonds from here.

Dan Acosta
6 months 1 week ago

The worst fomentors of fear and distrust are the US Catholic bishops with their endless statements on the threats that the Trump administration poses to those poor, helpless undocumented "migrants."

Advertisement

The latest from america

Catherine Pakaluk, who currently teaches at the Catholic University of America and holds a Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard University, describes her tweet to Mr. Macron as “spirited” and “playful.”
Emma Winters October 19, 2018
A new proposal from the Department of Homeland Security could make it much more difficult for legal immigrants to get green cards in the United States. But even before its implementation, the proposal has led immigrants to avoid receiving public benefits.
J.D. Long-GarcíaOctober 19, 2018
 Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, then nuncio to the United States, and then-Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick of Washington, are seen in a combination photo during the beatification Mass of Blessed Miriam Teresa Demjanovich at the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark, N.J., Oct. 4, 2014. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)
In this third letter Archbishop Viganò no longer insists, as he did so forcefully in his first letter, that the restrictions that he claimed Benedict XVI had imposed on Archbishop McCarrick—one he alleges that Pope Francis later lifted—can be understood as “sanctions.”
Gerard O’ConnellOctober 19, 2018
Kevin Clarke tells us about his reporting from Iraq.
Olga SeguraOctober 19, 2018