Central American Migrants Should Caravan to Panama

Migrants line up for a food distribution at a temporary shelter during heavy rainfall in Tijuana, Mexico, November 29, 2018. (Alkis Konstantinidis/REUTERS )
It’s wealthier and safer than the places they flee.

Go South, young man. Go South!

The so-called caravan members currently occupying the Benito Juarez Sports Center in Tijuana, Mexico, number some 5,700, by National Public Radio’s count. The border-hating Left wants Americans to believe that this is a giant exercise in day care, with Latinx mothers using strollers to wheel their babies into the U.S.A. In fact, NPR’s David Welna reports, “About 3,700 of those people are men, about 1,000 are women, and about 1,000 are children.” So, the “caravan” is 65 percent adult males — mainly unattached young men from Guatemala and Honduras.

Moreover, between April 19 and September 30, Border Patrol agents separated 507 illegal aliens from their purported family units, including those in 170 “families” in which “parents” and “children” were not related. Among them, 197 adults and 139 juveniles tried to lie their way into America by pretending to be kin. Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman Katie Waldman decried “the rampant fraud taking place at our Southern border.”

I have searched in vain for the scroll or tablet that grants folks like these the right to march north, demolish the Guatemala/Mexico border fence, and demand entry into this country, while, as happened Sunday, throwing stones and bottles at American officials. DHS stated that there were “multiple U.S. Border Patrol agents hit by rocks.”

“This caravan, unlike previous caravans, had already entered #Mexico violently and attacked border police in two other countries,” Homeland Security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen explained Monday, via Facebook. “I refuse to believe that anyone honestly maintains that attacking law enforcement with rocks and projectiles is acceptable. It is shocking that I have to explain this, but officers can be seriously or fatally injured in such attacks. Self-defense isn’t debatable for most law-abiding Americans.”

So these diligent public servants defended themselves with tear gas — or “chemical weapons,” as Senator Brian Schatz (D., Hawaii) initially described them, among many other deranged comparisons. But, as the Daily Caller discovered, when Barack Obama was president, he greeted migrants on the southern border with tear gas 79 times and pepper spray on 434 occasions.

Unlike Democrats’ jugular-bursting rage when the Trump administration employed these substances, Obama’s 513 uses of these irritants fueled only the Left’s interstellar silence. Who knows? Maybe these migrants wrapped their asylum applications around rocks and stuffed them into empty bottles. Perhaps they deserve applause for ingeniously delivering this paperwork.

Despite the bleatings of the no-borders crowd, America need not welcome anyone and everyone who barges in. This Republic is less like a catch-all community college and more like a prestigious university that may receive or reject whomever it wishes. If Georgetown, NYU, and Stanford may decide whom to admit, America should be at least as selective. Conversely, if the Left truly hates borders, then its elite educational bastions immediately should open themselves to everyone who can storm in and snag classroom seats.

So, why must potential Central American asylees venture north, all the way to the U.S.A., and forsake Mexico as “the first country of asylum” safe enough to harbor them, which international customs and precedents stipulate? While 1,700 to 2,000 migrants have accepted Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto’s offer of homes, doctors, schools, and jobs, thousands more echo Steely Dan’s immortal words: “Oh, no. Guadalajara won’t do!” They then roll inexorably toward San Ysidro, Calif.; Brownsville, Texas; and intervening points.

But rather than north, Guatemalans, Hondurans, and Salvadorans should caravan south — to Panama. It’s the wealthiest country between the U.S. and Colombia. So maybe these folks should seek better lives there.

According to the CIA World Factbook, per capita gross domestic product in El Salvador stood at $8,000 in 2017. In Guatemala, $8,200. Honduras: $5,600. Panama was miles ahead of them all at $25,400 — outrunning even Mexico’s $19,900.

Real GDP growth last year was 2.3 percent in El Salvador, 2.8 percent in Guatemala, and 4.8 percent in Honduras. Panama trounced these countries, at 5.4 percent, almost triple Mexico’s 2 percent expansion rate. Focus Economics predicts: “Growth is likely to pick up pace in 2019 and 2020.”

Also, Panama’s homicide rate is much lower than those in these other countries. This should be a major consideration for these reputedly safety-minded migrants.

Meanwhile, U.S. officials in Calexico arrested Honduran Jose Villalobos-Jobel, 29, an acknowledged member of decapitation-happy MS-13. “Villalobos confirmed his story of his gang involvement and intent on entering the United States illegally,” while embedded in the caravan, U.S. Customs and Border Protection stated. “The man also told agents he traveled to the United States border with a large group of people from Central America intending on filing for asylum in the United States.”

Even more worrisome, Fox News reports, the Tijuana Health Department has diagnosed widespread contagious diseases among those itching to reach America. Of the roughly 5,700 squatting in that border town, medical personnel have treated 2,267 people with assorted maladies:

  • Three tuberculosis cases
  • Four HIV/AIDS patients
  • Four chicken-pox victims
  • 101 individuals with lice
  • More than 60 percent of migrants suffer from respiratory infections

Americans should revamp Horace Greeley’s rallying cry and insist: “Go South, young man. Go South!”

Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor and a contributing editor of National Review Online.

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