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Refugees, migration, populism, cyber security, trade, nuclear… (Great Decisions Spring 2019)

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Refugees and Global Migration

According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency (CBP), more than 100,000 migrants were apprehended attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border during the month of March. This surge of migrants follows a February that was described as “the busiest February for border officials in the last 12 years,” with 76,000 migrants apprehended along the border.

“We’ve arrived at the breaking point,” Brian Hastings, chief of law enforcement operations for CBP said. This “breaking point” comes as the migrant caravan from Central America makes its way through Mexico toward the U.S. This caravan is made up of men, women and children, primarily from the Central American nations of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. All of these nations are currently experiencing economic hardships and violence, forcing families to flee.

As U.S. President Donald Trump and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador met in April to discuss the border dispute, many of President Trump’s decisions on handling the border were called into question. The U.S. State Department announced a plan to cut foreign aid to Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala—citizens from those three nations make up the largest percentage of migrants in the caravan. President Trump has backed up this plan, claiming that the three nations have done nothing to curb the number of migrants. This plan was criticized by both sides of the aisle in Congress, including Congressman Michael McCaul (R-TX) who said “If we cut all this funding, I think it’s going to make things tragically worse, not better.”

President Trump’s plan for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border continues to stall as the House of Representatives filed suit on April 5. The lawsuit states that the President’s declaration of a National Emergency in March in order to secure funding for the border wall is unconstitutional, since there was no Congressional support for the President’s plan to appropriate funds from other agencies. “The President’s action clearly violates the Appropriations Clause by stealing from appropriated funds, an action that was not authorized by constitutional or statuary authority,” Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said. On April 9, the Defense Department announced that it will award nearly a billion dollars in contracts to different companies to begin the proposed border wall, with a completion date set at October 2020. The contract is also under dispute from State Attorney Generals and members of Congress, as the funds are being diverted from other sources.

Recommended Readings

Jill Colvin, “President Trump Just Abandoned His Threat to Shut Down the U.S.-Mexico Border,” Time (April 5, 2019).

Susan Davis, “Trump Vows Veto After Congress Blocks His order to Build Border Wall,” NPR (March 14, 2019).

Claudio Escalon, “Hundreds in migrant caravan leave Honduras, beginning journey to U.S. southern border,” USA Today (April 10, 2019).



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