November 7, 2018 — As I was in El Salvador for meetings of the Jesuit Central and North American network on migration, I heard about this caravan of over 3,000 people making its way on foot from Honduras and wanting to reach the United States. The latest news is that it has crossed the border of Guatemala and Mexico and is headed toward the United States.
This caravan started spontaneously in the north-western part of Honduras gathering momentum as it approached Guatemala. They traveled with practically nothing. How do you feed that many people for weeks? It is not unlike the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes. Many generous people along the way have supported the people in the caravan by giving them food and water. These people are truly acting as Jesus did by being in solidarity with the people of the caravan.
Why are so many people walking so many kilometers? They are desperate. They have nothing to lose. They live in constant insecurity surrounded by gangs that endanger their lives and the lives of their children. They want to have a life where they can properly feed their children, give them an education, give them some measure of health care. They want to give them things that we take for granted in North America. In addition, they have had enough of living desperately, barely surviving.
Some of us in North America want to keep them out. Listening to President Trump describe these people, you would think that the United States was under attack by a foreign army. Here, in North America, we have built a comfortable life for ourselves mostly at the expense of other countries. The main reasons why we are so rich is that we have made other countries so poor through our economic policies. Our multinational companies have given us very cheap products at the expense of the people from our Southern neighbours. Moreover, when these people have risen up to protest, we use different means at our disposal to suppress them. Recently canonized, Oscar Romero raised his voice in favour of his people in El Salvador back in the 70s. He paid for it with his life.
As the inequities keep growing for a variety of reasons, what will we do here in North America? Will we remain indifferent and keep silent? Will we try to prevent the people that are seeking justice by supporting politicians like President Trump? Alternatively, will we be in solidarity with them and demand that our governments treat these people with dignity. We must tear down the walls of Fortress North America. We are all part of one human race. Our Catholic social teaching calls us to treat others with dignity and challenges us to be in solidarity with the poor. So I ask you: What are you going to do?