One segment of the Central American "caravan" has arrived in Tijuana, while another continues to make its northward journey to the U.S. border, composed of members having a wide range of motivations. Running the gamut from asylum seekers to criminal intent, the motivation for an overwhelming majority, as indicated by numerous interviews conducted en route, is a simple desire to earn money to enjoy a better quality of life. However, those successful in reaching the border, regardless of their motivation, opting to use mob power to cross it are in for a few surprises.
Annually, thousands of non-citizens arriving at the border, or already in the U.S., apply for asylum. Those qualifying meet the international standard of a "refugee." It is a status attaching to anyone unable or unwilling to return to his/her home country and unable to obtain protection there due to past persecution or well-founded fear of being persecuted in the future due to "race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion."
Undoubtedly, these migrants have been advised to apply for asylum rather than reveal their true motivation. Claiming asylum would normally prove successful for them as the U.S. federal government is already being strained by a soaring number of requests, and the Government Accountability Office has warned Congress the Department of Homeland Security has a "limited ability" to detect bogus claims. Many caravan migrants could be expected to seek asylum based on fears of gang violence. Based on Trump's order, if they fail to come in legally through official border crossings, they will be disallowed asylum consideration. This week, however, a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order against the Trump policy, which will be in effect until at least Dec. 19.
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There would be just cause, even absent Trump's order, to disallow asylum requests from these caravans. In an effort to stem the flow of migrants northward, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto informed caravan members directly upon entering the country, his government would offer support to those agreeing to apply for asylum in Mexico. He made it clear, "We know very well that what you're seeking is an opportunity, you want to build a new home and a better future for your family and loved ones. Today, Mexico lends you a hand." The offer included medical care, a temporary job permit and enrollment of their children in school.
Reportedly, the migrants held a vote near the southern Mexican town of Arriaga on whether to stay or go. They voted to continue heading north. There was no reason for them to reject an offer giving them such guarantees, allowing them to enjoy a cultural environment very similar to the one they left behind.
While some pundits, such as CNN's Jim Acosta, refuse to call the caravan an "invasion" – it clearly is an invasion. Not only has this intent been made clear by its participants, but any time a cast of thousands declares such intent, waving flags of foreign countries while extending the middle finger, it is absurd to view it as anything but an invading force.
We have learned some caravan members are armed with weapons and incendiary devices, which obviously puts our border security personnel and the military forces now taking up positions there to assist them at risk. Should the invaders utilize such weapons, it raises a justification for deadly force. But, the hope is any invaders intending violence will never get that close.
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Over the past several decades, the U.S. has developed an array of non-lethal weapons (NLW) including microwave energy blasters, blinding laser beams and deafening sonic blasters, specifically designed for crowd control. As one journalist appropriately describes the development of this array, it is "what appears to be the first arms race in which the opponent is the general population."
But there is one NLW device in particular that may well be making its debut against an invading force, known as the "Holy Grail of Crowd Control." An earlier version of it was dubbed the "Active Denial System" (ADS). Working like an open-air microwave oven, it projects a focused beam of electromagnetic radiated heat reaching 130 degrees, penetrating the skin to a depth of 1/64th of an inch and causing those targeted instinctively to flee. With an estimated range of seven football fields, it can reach farther than any other NLW. A modified smaller version is now in use, renamed the Assault Intervention System (AIS).
A caravan force, already guilty of committing crimes along the way, not only shooting at law enforcement officers but kidnapping children to pose as their own in order to play the "no family separation" card upon arrival in the U.S., needs to be confronted and stopped before it creates similar problems within our borders. It is a safe bet some political opponents of Trump hope a border confrontation will result in bloodshed, harming the president's reputation and legitimacy. Hopefully, our well-trained and well-disciplined troops – whom Trump has given new authority to defend Customs and Border Protection personnel from threat – and civilian border agents, equipped with an array of new non-lethal weapons, will deprive Trump opponents of their wishes.