A continuously growing group of thousands of Honduran migrants, dubbed the “Caravan”, is making its way towards the United States’ southern border in what one can assume is a search for a better, more free life. Nonetheless, their efforts may be futile as their pursuit for freedom may land them in an uncertain limbo. The plight of the migrants escaping poverty and extreme crime cannot be ignored but neither can the rule of law, which is why it is imperative that both are taken into consideration.
The sanguine future that the migrants see for themselves and the laws governing this country are not mutually exclusive: both can happen simultaneously while appeasing both sides. Yet the country is divided on the issue, as if there isn’t a possible logical and legal ending for the Honduran caravan. The dilemma in this situation is whether or not many of the migrants actually qualify for asylum here in the United States.
“Many in the caravan have little chance of qualifying for asylum, even if they do make it,” Frank Miles of Fox News reported. “As the United States does not consider things like fleeing from poverty or gang violence as a qualifying factor.”
Admittance into the United States is attainable under several legal circumstances, including a declaration of asylum or entry as a humanitarian refugee. This is not the first time that migrants seeking refuge have come to America in droves, and not the first time this year. Earlier in 2018, approximately 300 Central American migrants approached the United States border in an attempt to flee violence in their home country, many of whom did not receive asylum.
According to a New York Times report, more than 75 percent of asylum seeking immigrants from the Northern Triangle in Central America – which include El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras – were denied entry between the years 2012 and 2017. Reasons for denial were rooted in an inability on the part of the migrants to prove persecution via the traditional parameters needed for asylum. Generally, the circumstances one must experience include being part of a persecuted group usually based on race, sexual identity, religion, nationality or dissenting political opinions.
With a lack of official reasoning to back their entry, the migrants will find themselves in a hanging state waiting for either deportation, or for those lucky few, a grant of asylum and promise of a new life.
For this reason, it is important that our immigration laws are honored and based on merit so the potential for denial is minimized. Although asylum helps those who need it, following a meritocratic immigration system would benefit those looking for a better life in the United States of America avoid the crushing stress and possible deportation that faces them if they expect entry through asylum means.
The system that is currently in place, instead of the proposed meritocracy is a family visa system of immigration. Often designated as “chain migration” or “family reunification,’ this structure essentially allows for those outside of the country to immigrate to the United States under a familial sponsor. While the family visa system isn’t totally imperfect, it’s more of a catch-all arrangement where precision should be required.
A meritocracy is a system that we use across all facets of life, in work, at school and with friends. We make value judgments and establish principles on certain criteria that allow us to interpret others in an efficient and trustworthy fashion. The framework of a merit based system looks at an immigrant’s education level, employment history and financial standing as a benchmark for entry.
Although there are some who will wittingly characterize this system as inherently discriminatory towards migrants, it is essential that the lawful path be followed to avoid any sort of repudiation on grounds of misinterpreted illegalities. A straightforward, meritocratic immigration system could potentially put this issue to rest, while still allowing those in true need of asylum a gateway to freedom – instead of an endless eternity in damnation.