Marching to the Promised Land

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I’ve been watching and reading the news, trying to find any kind of factual material about the “Migrant Caravan,” but other than breathless accounts of the sheer size of crowd, there isn’t much out there.

The Los Angeles Times sent a reporter down to southern Mexico who wrote touching anecdotal accounts of the desperate people, primarily women, he spoke to, but anecdotal accounts do not qualify as facts.

Fox News published anecdotal accounts of young men eager for work in America, many of whom had been previously deported multiple times. They also ran photographs of young women with children, some just toddlers in diapers. But one of their news programs also reported seeing young men wearing T-shirts emblazoned with the words “Trump is the devil,” and noted accurately that the young men in the caravan greatly outnumber the women and children. Again, neither anecdotal accounts nor isolated incidents qualify as real information.

However, in every shot of the endless line that stretches beyond the capability of any camera to capture it in its entirety, you see men carrying Honduran flags and Guatemalan flags and El Salvadoran flags, sometimes waving them on poles, sometime flags so large they must be carried by two or three men walking abreast. That intrigues me. It also raises many questions.

The US sent almost two-billion dollars in foreign aid to Latin America and the Caribbean in 2017. “Foreign aid” includes a wide variety of programs, from military aid or training and narcotics control to economic support, development assistance, and health programs. In the cases of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, military and narcotics law enforcement aid together constitute a fraction of the amount sent for the other programs.

My first question is, why are we sending that money, if it clearly isn’t helping the people of those countries? (I don’t do twitter, but I understand President Trump asked much the same thing yesterday.)

My next question is what kind of oversight is there over how those governments actually spend that money? Clearly it isn’t helping the people it is meant to help, so do we actually know how much, if any, is being used for its intended purpose(s)? I don’t wish to sound cynical and suspicious, but American aid has been known to end up lining private pockets before, from time to time, and all three of those countries are notorious for their corruption.

And then, most importantly, who sponsored these people and their march? I don’t for an instant believe they all just spontaneously had the same idea, any more than I believed Barack and Hillary’s claim that Benghazi was randomly caused by a group of young men out for a walk. The Wall Street Journal indicated the march was backed by the organization “People Without Borders,” but that organization’s website opens with a bold-print statement vehemently denying any association with the caravan. So who got the migrants going?

And who is supporting them en route? The news accounts reported trucks handing out food and water and toilet paper, but think for a moment of the logistics of feeding, watering, sheltering, and providing other ancillary necessities to 7000+, 10,000+, 14,000+ (it depends which totally honest, well-researched and fact driven news source you choose to believe) ill-equipped people. Who is paying for it? Clearly no one with America’s best interests at heart. And it’s debatable that it was started with the best interests of the poor marchers at heart: at least one person has already died, others have had to be hospitalized, and they haven’t even gotten into drug cartel country yet where the real fun will begin. Let’s be very clear: there is a humanitarian crisis brewing here which America will be called upon to mitigate, and we will, but saving lives is very different from fomenting trouble and encouraging people to risk the lives America will have to save.

Finally, if you were a desperate migrant and really, really wanted to come to America and make a better life for yourself here; if you were so frantic to escape the poverty and lack of opportunity and the violence in your homeland that you would walk between 1400 and 2400 miles (depending on which route they take), why the hell would you wave flags glorifying the memory of the country you’re trying so hard to escape? During the Cold War, I don’t recall any of the young men and women who risked their lives to escape the communist bloc carrying the East German flag, say, as they clambered over the wall. My great-grandparents didn’t display an Irish flag once they and their seven sons finally had a one-room cabin in front of which to display anything. Waving the flag of the country you’re fleeing is not likely to inspire welcoming open arms in the country you’re fleeing to.

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25 thoughts on “Marching to the Promised Land”

  1. I saw a meme (and you know how accurate those are!) on facebook the other day. “Look at all these poor men who have left all to come to America for a better life. They left their families, their wives and children. But hey! At least they have their cigarettes and cell phones.”

    This whole march has a distinctive odor of a set up. Who set it up? I only wish I knew. The timing, the sheer vastness of the numbers speak volumes.

    Like your great-grandparents, my family immigrated from Ireland looking for a better life. They found one in Nebraska and totally abandoned themselves to their new country, adopting all of it’s traditions as their own. They embraced the flag of America and swore allegiance to it.

    They were fleeing a potato famine, not persecution from their government or unjust dictators. I do not understand a mindset of fleeing unjust tyrants only to attempt to make your new country just like your old one. If it was so great, why are they leaving?


  2. None of these people are trying to get to Venezuela. Let that sink in. The billions of dollars we send to Latin countries are going into the pockets of the politicians. The people will never see a dime of it.

  3. Excellent article that asks all the questions (and then some) that I have had. One more….is it just a coincidence that this is happening about the time of the mid-term elections? I think not!

    I see the flags of their countries being carried and my first reaction is, this is not asking for help, this is an attack on our country.

    I think we need to do a ‘Trump’….pull all funding of all the countries that these individuals come from and the countries that seem to be unwilling to stop them (ahem, Mexico) and review, re-evaluate and whatever it takes to see if we should be giving them our tax dollars in the first place.

    Mary Ellen

  4. I was just mopping my kitchen floor and thinking about your post.

    Is it at all possible that the 10,000 +/- men merely went to the store for milk, got lost, and staunchly refused to ask for directions?

    (My humblest apologies to any and all men that I might have just offended with my silliness.)

    (JP, please feel free to add this comment to my previous one.
    And oh! I meant to tell you also you are 2 for 2 in book recommendations. I recently picked up Liza Mundy’s Code Girls in the Denver airport and I am thoroughly enjoying it. Thank you! Am I remembering correctly you mentioning that your Momma was one of them?

    In reading Code Girls though I am finding myself more and more disillusioned and disappointed by the culture and society in which we live. I know life there was full of heartache, struggle and they had hard too. But it seems to have been a kinder, gentler time. When we were free to express our standards, beliefs, opinions, without fear of recrimination. It was a much more accepting and tolerate world then.

    Funny, we think we are accepting and tolerant but in actuality we are anything but.

    I miss writing and receiving actual letters in the mailbox attached to my house. I miss the anticipation as I would wait for them, excitement building each day. “Maybe today I’ll get a letter!” I can commiserate with Jim Bruce and his struggle with the delay in receiving letters from Dot Braden.


  5. Dear JP
    I am hearing a lot of talk to the question of who organized this caravan.
    There are several distinct possibilities. One, state actor(s) from South America. This would make sense from a logistics sense and maybe it is being done to coerce the US into providing more aid.
    The scarier options being pondered are the left or right interests from the US. Interests on the left would profit from this by adding to the blue wave of people who have parted from the right on immigration issues. Also, this might gin up more engagement with Hispanics who aren’t very motivated to vote in the midterm. The only problem is that the caravan won’t get close to the US until after the election and it would be the border skirmish happening during voting that would get more people to the polls.
    Oddly right wing US interests might actually benefit the most. A daily update during the election process of a growing force of people coming to breach our borders that seems to coincide quite well with early voting, but there is no danger of separating the babies at the border and effecting “R” turnout negatively. And you can’t prove there are no MS-13s or ‘middle easterns’ among them. It’s a triple threat. Additionally this can be used to put more strings on our aid to their countries of origin.
    Just a thought.
    Ken from Dallas.

  6. Without speculating on where the organization of this stunt came from, it is obvious to me these folks are being used. Blood will be on the hands of their puppet masters.

    1. …ich hoffe eure “Migrationspolitik” ist /wird ausgeklügelter und besser durchdacht, als unsere … viele Grüße aus Deutschland …. Manuela

      (Google Übersetzer):

      (Google translator):

      .. I hope your “migration policy” is /is more sophisticated and better thought out, as our … many greetings from Germany …. Manuela

        1. I have no intention of defending Trump’s over-the-top rhetoric, but I would point out that the progressive left rarely if ever condemns those who say equally appalling things about him and who gleefully attack his wife, Melania. Violence is unacceptable on either side, but blaming Trump for some right-wing extremist and moronic fruitcake sending bombs in the mail would be just like blaming Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren for Representative Scalise being shot by a left-wing extremist moronic fruitcake. A return to civility would be lovely, but don’t hold your breath waiting for it to come from either side.

          1. Vielen Dank Herr Parker, dass Sie sich Zeit genommen haben, mir zu antworten, danke, ich schätze sie sehr ….. ich hoffe es kommt niemand zu Schaden und man findet die Täter, die dafür verantwortlich sind, egal welche Seiten dafür verantwortlich sind, Bedrohungen, gegen das Leben gehen einfach zu weit und sind nicht akzeptabel … ist das überhaupt noch Politik , ob die Presse dafür mit zur Verantwortung gezogen werden kann …ist es richtig dies anzuzweifeln ?! …. Manuela

            Google translator:

            Thank you, Mr Parker, for taking the time to answer me, thank you, I appreciate you very much ….. I hope nobody comes to harm and you find the perpetrators who are responsible, no matter which pages are responsible are, threats, against life just too far and are not acceptable … is that even politics, if the press can be held responsible for it … is it right to doubt this? …. Manuela

      1. [Bis zu 15 Täter? Mutmaßliche Gruppenvergewaltigung: Acht Männer in U-Haft]

        ….ein Beispiel ….. ich hoffe wirklich, dass eure Politik besser funktioniert, als unsere hier in Deutschland…. Manuela

        google translation:
        an example ….. I really hope that your policy works better than ours in Germany… Manuela

  7. Hello JP,

    The migrants are carrying their flags because they are proud of their homelands, even though the corrupt governments have allowed armed gangs to take over. The East Germans did carry flags in 1989, but they tore out the funny looking crest in the middle that represented communism leaving the reg gold and black for Germany. Your ancestors may not have flown Irish flags while leaving Ireland, but there is no shortage of Irish flags flying during St. Patrick’s Day celebrations today!

    My question is why one large group of people seeking asylum from a country ruined by a corrupt communist government considered heroes while another group escaping a country ruined by a corrupt capitalist government is considered invaders? Why is Trump asking these countries to build walls only 30 years after Reagan challenged Gorbachev to tear down another wall?

    Gerald from Canada

    1. Gerald, you are either disingenuous or confused.

      San Quentin has a wall around it to keep people in. Mark Zuckerberg has a wall around his home to keep people like you and me out. Same structure, very different functions. The Berlin Wall (which extended metaphorically with armed guards along the length of the Communist bloc) was intended to keep people in.

      East Germans may have carried flags in 1989 as they celebrated the tearing down of the Berlin Wall, but I lived in Germany when the wall went up in 1961 and for five years after, and I assure you none of the young men and women who made it over the wall were carrying anything in their hands except their hearts. They were too busy trying to dodge the bullets of the Communist border guards to encumber themselves with flags.

      America is most the generous nation on earth and has done more for freedom and democracy and human rights and to raise people up out of poverty around the world than any other ten nations. We already have an estimated 22-million illegal immigrants here, not to mention the one-million legal ones that arrive every single year, so no one can accuse us of not accepting immigrants. Unfortunately, it is axiomatic that no nation can survive if inundated by immigrants who refuse to assimilate and adopt the values and customs of their new home, and the larger the number of immigrants from a single country or region, the less likely they are to assimilate.

      Besides, who in hell has the unmitigated arrogance to think they can just march in here and compel us to accept them?

      It is a very different thing for Americans to celebrate their ancestral roots by marching in a parade with an Irish flag (or Italian or German or Polish or whatever) than it is to demand entrance while waving the flag of the nation you are trying to escape.

      Finally, I leave you with then Senator Barack Obama’s words on illegal immigration, spoken in 2006: “Those who enter the country illegally and those who employ them disrespect the rule of law, and they are showing disregard for those who are following the law. We simply cannot allow people to pour into the United States undetected, undocumented (and) unchecked, and circumventing the line of people who are waiting patiently, diligently and lawfully to become immigrants in this country.”


      1. First off, we need to accept the same principle of presumption of innocence that you correctly invoked in your previous article about Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh. This migrant caravan has not waved flags while arrogantly demanding entry yet because they are still over 800 miles and over one month of walking away from the border. If they end up doing this, I have no doubt the ones who engage in this behaviour will be turned away.

        In order to be an illegal immigrant, one has to either sneak into the country (very difficult for a group of 3600 to accomplish while followed by the cameras and reporters of major news organizations) or overstay a work or tourist visa (doesn’t apply, this caravan is still in Mexico). So far, this caravan is following the law, so they are part of “the line of people who are waiting patiently, diligently and lawfully to become immigrants in this country.”

        You seem to have a beef with illegal immigrants, and I would definitely agree with you there, but President Trump seems to have a beef with all immigrants from certain countries (hint: he is not trying to build a wall on the northern border and asking Canada to pay for it) and accepting this risks ending the stream of legal immigrants that made America great in the first place. Let us not forget that for over 100 years until the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, there was absolutely no restriction on immigration to the United States, and no such thing as an illegal immigrant.

        Gerald from Canada

  8. Dear Mr. Parker,

    As a huge Simon & Simon fan I stumbled over your website more than a year ago and I stucked with it. I find it highly interesting to read your blog and get information we usually don’t hear in Germany.

    But sometimes it is even more interesting to listen to your opinion and questions about certain situations because most of the time it is exactly what I heard (or said) a couple of days ago in my political-family-kitchen-talks which I do have. The big question “Why?” (why are those people are heading north now) is the same question my mother ask just yesterday evening and we are asking ourselves this question for years now because of the refugees who are heading north to Europe. Why did this start? Europe is changing, Germany is changing since then. And I am not talking about some not researched information in the internet but about incidents that happened to my family. From annoying stories like refugees selling their TVs, that was given to them for free, and asking for a new one afterwards (my dad is a TV and radio technician) to threatening situations happening to my brother. He got attacked with a needle in a supermarket (he was an employee with the supermarket at this time). Another time my brother went to a family breakfast in a very small country café. Usually this café is visited by retired people. A southern man came in, mumbled in an unknown language, checking the situation, saw my brother and another younger couple and left again. Yes, nothing serious happened – thank God. But the emotions are changing. I don’t think it is fear, it is more the wish to be prepared. But this is definitely new. My brother already had an eye at the coffee pot. I do live in the country and I never ever thought about weapons. I did some Judo and Karate in my school time and always felt safe. I work in a law office and deal with all kind of people without any fear. But now I do own a (legal) gun.

    Of course, not ALL refugees are dangerous and that is the worst part indeed. People who need help and secure are getting murdered in Germany’s refugee-camps.

    What is going on in this world? There is one big difference between Merkel and Trump: Merkel has her arms wide open while Trump at least seems to see the dangerous of the situation.

    I hope the US will deal with this situation better than we do.

    God bless you!

    Anne Marie Schmitz
    from Germany

    PS: What about a movie review to “Gosnell”?

  9. Dear Mr Parker
    I really do hope President Trump could stop the immigrants for your sake. Otherwise you will probably end up like Europe and South Africa. In South Africa there is a WHITE GENOCIDE going on for the past 24 years and no one cares. There is LAND GRAB WITHOUT COMPENSATION, but who cares about that.
    You will lose your language in your schools and universities. You will lose your flag, your anthem, your history, your monuments, even your special celebration days on the Calendar, because it may offend the others. Crime will hit the fan. Your country will go bankrupt after a while. A lot of South Africans had fled to the USA, but where to will you flee?
    South Africa was once upon a time a very rich country, but not anymore. We’re heading the same road as Venezuela.
    Best wishes and God bless.
    Lauraine from Mossel Bay, South Africa

    1. Lauraine,
      I hate to say it, but your country is in a lot of trouble. I have worked and hunted multiple times in South Africa, and as much as I love the country, I would be very reluctant to go back these days. Even twenty years ago I met men who were already trying to get their families and their money out, and as you know, things were much, much better back then. Your current president could be charitably labeled a wingnut; less charitable terms would include totalitarian moron. Any country that attempts to transfer wealth from one group to another, whether that wealth be in the form of land, businesses, cash, or anything else, is doomed to violence, chaos, and ultimately failure. Look at so many of your neighboring countries in Africa. And a government that attempts to control all the productive elements that make up a nation inevitably ends up with all the productive elements in its own hands. A good example of how well that works for people would be the former USSR.
      I recently had an email from a South African friend of mine, saying that he plans to “stay and fight.” I hope he means fight legally, but I also know how I would react if some dictator tried to confiscate any of my property from me.
      Be careful and be safe.

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