A caravan of some 10,000 people is slowly making its way from the south of Mexico towards the United States. They are mostly Hondurans who had crossed Guatemala and are now making their way, mostly on foot, towards the US in search of a new life.
There was a first group of immigrants which arrived at the US border in Texas last April. It was this group which made news when American immigration authorities separated children from their parents in a manner that ordinary Americans protested as inhuman. Even as the fate of that April group hangs in the balance, this second group of desperate Central Americans is now making its way towards the US.
What is causing mass migrations like this around the world today? In the last few years, the news was mostly about refugees from the Middle East and Africa trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe. Many of the refugees were escaping the war in Syria, which continues to this day six years after it began.
The Syrians were fleeing a failed state which could no longer ensure their fundamental rights and safety as citizens. They were also fleeing economic deprivation. They were joined by peoples from South Sudan, Somalia, Central African Republic, and Afghanistan, all trying to get to Europe, at first through Turkey and later through Italy and the Balkans, on flimsy boats many of which sank in the Mediterranean.
The focus on migration has now shifted to the other side of the globe, to the United States where thousands of immigrants are seeking entry via Mexico. They are not fleeing a war, only economic deprivation and crime in their home countries. Thousands more are reported leaving their towns to join the caravan now in Mexico, seeking safety in numbers, from robbers, rapists, and corrupt police.
We must be thankful that we in the Philippines have not reached this state of affairs where our people have to leave their homes to escape war and crime and failure of government authority. We do have millions of Filipinos leaving our shores but they are in demand as workers in other lands – as doctors and engineers, as information technology experts, as construction workers and caregivers.
We have many problems in the Philippines, notably high prices, drugs and killings associated with them, corruption in high places. But we are much more fortunate than the Syrians of the Middle East, the Africans of South Sudan, and the Hondurans of Central America. We have not joined the desperate masses seeking refuge in other countries, like the people in the caravan now making its way through Mexico to the US.