On Easter Sunday, President Donald Trump expressed concern via Twitter about a caravan of emigrants walking north from Central America to the southern border of the United States.
As the week progressed, Trump doubled down on his original comments, saying the caravan “had better be stopped” before it gets to the U.S. border. The statements tie into Trump’s position that we need stronger immigration laws, an end to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and a wall on the border.
We're looking too much at the symptoms and not enough at the causes.
Out of the nearly 1,200 people in the caravan, about 80 percent are from Honduras, a country where Heifer works. Trump also threatened to cut U.S. aid to Honduras if the immigration continued.
I understand that immigration is a complex issue, and people hold passionate opinions on how to approach those who enter the country through unofficial channels. But we’re looking too much at the symptoms and not enough at the causes.
I’ve visited Honduras a couple of times to meet with Heifer project participants, and I’m heading there again in a few days to do the same. I’ve not met one Honduran who truly wanted to uproot his or her family from the only home they’ve known and make the long, dangerous journey to the U.S. The Hondurans in the caravan are mainly fleeing political and gang violence. Many more people decide to leave the country because there aren’t enough economic opportunities, and they need to find a way to feed their families.
I’m sure most Hondurans don’t want to leave because there are a lot of great things about their home country. It’s a vibrantly multi-ethnic place with roots in the Mayan culture. There’s plenty of natural beauty, and the food is delicious—I’m pretty excited about eating pupusas and fresh corn tortillas all week.
On the trip, we’ll be visiting Heifer farmers who are now enjoying stability in their lives after joining forces to form small businesses and cooperatives that produce coffee and chocolate. I’m not a coffee drinker, but Honduran coffee wins me over every time. And I really enjoy having the experts teach me about where my chocolate comes from.
The families Heifer works with are making a go of it economically, but unfortunately, not all families have the same opportunities. For Hondurans without land, capital and other resources, dire circumstances have forced them to leave. I hope we can all find the compassion to agree that we don’t want people to live in fear and poverty, no matter the borders that surround them. And I hope we can find the common sense to realize that if we help people find opportunities and community at home, then we can really get to the root of the immigration issue.