The caravan was not ready for its close-up.
Protests turned into riots on Sunday as hundreds of Central American migrants rushed a border fence and tried storming their way into the United States. They waved flags from their country while trying to enter this one illegally. They chucked rocks at U.S. Border Patrol. They chanted “Yes We Can.”
Stuffed with turkey and flipping through cable, many in the U.S. watched the 500-man mob trying to invade their country over the Thanksgiving weekend and formed an opinion about all of the 6,000 or 10,000 or 20,000 migrants who may still be on their way to the border, seeking asylum. Just like that, sympathy for legitimate asylum seekers took a permanent hit.
These optics weren’t lost on the Mexican government., which condemned the protesters for “violently” attempting to enter the U.S. Anyone following their example won’t find refuge in the U.S., Mexico’s interior secretary warned, but will instead be deported out of Mexico. What’s more, they will ruin the chances for anyone trying to enter legally.
“These acts of provocation, far from helping achieve their objectives, are in violation of legal migration and could result in a grave incident at the border,” the statement said.
President Trump has only toyed with the idea of closing the Southern Border, and so far only traffic at the San Ysidro border crossing south of San Diego was temporarily halted. But as soon as the next “grave incident” occurs, the consequences will be more permanent. The violent caravanners made certain of that on Sunday.
It isn’t that the United States isn’t sympathetic to those fleeing tyranny. It’s that most Americans view asylum as an act of generosity, as something they are far less likely to offer migrants who resort to violence. By bull rushing the border in the middle of the day, while cameras rolled, they made themselves that much easier to dismiss.