Five Myths about the ‘Migrant Caravan’


With all the myths circulating about the caravan at the Mexico-US border, let’s separate fact from fiction. (CNN)

Use our resource to learn a little about the border between the United States and Mexico.

Teachers, scroll down for a quick list of key resources in our Teachers Toolkit.

This boy is not a part of the Migrant Caravan. Shadowed by the containment bars of a Border Patrol car, he is being driven back to his hometown of Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico, after being picked up in Brownsville, Texas.
Photograph by Joel Sartore, National Geographic

Discussion Ideas

  • What is the “Migrant Caravan”?
    • The Migrant Caravan describes the annual, coordinated journey of immigrants from Central America to Mexico and the United States. The annual caravans “provide migrants with safety in numbers while giving advocates a platform to air their criticisms of regional migration policies.”
      • At its largest, this year’s caravan had about 1,200 people, and between 200-300 arrived at the U.S. border in Tijuana, Mexico, last week. Most migrants chose to leave the caravan and either travel on their own or stay in Mexico.
      • Immigrants on the caravan traveled more than 3,200 kilometers (2,000 miles) by bus, train, and on foot.
      • The caravan is also called the Viacrusis (Way of the Cross) del Migrante and the Pueblo Sin Fronteras (People without Borders) caravan.


Myth 1: These migrants are from Mexico.


Myth 2: These migrants are trying to enter the US illegally.

  • These immigrants are seeking asylum. What is asylum? Skim our resource on refugees for some help.
    • Asylum is the protection from oppression or hardship offered by another country.
      • It’s actually illegal to dismiss asylum seekers without hearing their cases. All nations that have signed the 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees are required not to deport asylum-seekers to places where their lives or freedom may be in danger. (The U.S. is a signatory and must comply.)
      • Once an asylum-seeker is approved for refugee status, the host country is expected to provide civil rights, the right to work, and access to social services.


Myth 3: These migrants are trying to get U.S. jobs to send money back home.


Myth 4: Most people who seek asylum in the U.S. receive it.

  • Why is asylum denied to more than 75% of applicants from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala? Read through this article for some help.
    • foundation or credible fear. Asylum-seekers must show a “well-founded” fear of persecution based on their race, religion, nationality, political belief, gender, sexual orientation, or membership in a particular group.
      • People who request asylum must first submit to a screening by an asylum officer, called a credible-fear interview. If the officer finds the fear credible, the case is then referred to an immigration judge for a full hearing.
      • There is not a clear distinction as to what constitutes “well-founded” or “credible”, and immigration officers and judges can have very different interpretations.
        • For example, some judges may consider fear of chronic hunger to be a “well-founded” threat, while others may not consider malnutrition a form of persecution.
    • port of entry. A person can only apply for asylum if they are already in the United States or at a port of entry.
      • A port of entry is just what it sounds like—a port, border town, or airport that serves as an entry point for people and goods.
      • San Ysidro, the California city where the Migrant Caravan asylum-seekers are being processed, is a port of entry.
    • procedure. To apply for asylum, an immigrant must file a complete application within one year of their last entry into the United States. Failure to follow the regulations could cause an asylum application to be denied.
    • national security. “Assuming that you generally qualify and you have completed all of the procedural requirements, your application can still be denied based on national safety concerns. If you have been convicted of serious crimes or you assisted in the persecution of others, you could be considered a danger to the U.S. national security. If you have been a member of a group that has previously threatened the United States in some way, you can also be denied asylum.”


Myth 5: A new border wall would help prevent these migrants from entering the U.S.



CNN: The 5 biggest myths about the migrant caravan

New York Times: U.S. Lets a Few Members of a Migrant Caravan Apply for Asylum

CNN: How bad is it in the countries these migrants are fleeing from? This bad

Nat Geo: U.S.-Mexico Border

UNHCR: The 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and Its 1967 Protocol

FreeAdvice Legal: Reasons for Denial of Asylum Applications in the United States

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