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Statement: Forces Driving Migrant Caravan Part of Long-Term Shift in Migration Patterns

Washington, D.C.– The following is a statement from Theresa Cardinal Brown, director of immigration and cross-border policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center, on the factors driving the immigrant caravan moving through Mexico and the Trump administration’s response:

“Let’s move past the unsupported notion that this caravan includes ‘unknown Middle Easterners’ and focus on who really is part of this group: desperate families of men, women, and children seeking protection from violence, crime, and poverty in Central America. Those forces are driving what is a long-term shift in migration patterns at the southern border. Meanwhile, our border control system was designed for a time when those apprehended were predominantly Mexican single men coming to the United States in search of work. It simply isn’t built for large numbers families with young children driven northward by powerful factors that go well beyond economic dissatisfaction, who aren’t trying to evade capture but are seeking out officials to legally ask for asylum.

“Those factors pushing families to the U.S.-Mexico border are not changing soon, and the government must accept that reality. Attempts at so-called deterrence, whether through separating families, detaining families, or trying to place troops on the border, are not likely to work with this population. Likewise, cutting aid to Northern Triangle countries would be deeply counterproductive and could make the conditions driving northward migration much worse. The administration should be working closely with all the countries in the region and looking for ways to expand our asylum processing capacity to ensure applicants get a fair and speedy hearing. That’s the way to manage and control what is best described as a humanitarian crisis.”

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