The caravan invasion

A little more than a century ago, a group of several hundred Mexicans, led by Pancho Villa, crossed our Southern border at Columbus, New Mexico. During this raid, seventeen Americans were killed.

A few months earlier, in January, 1916, Villa and his men had killed sixteen American citizens. This was in retaliation for President Wilson’s  recognition of Villa’s enemy, General Carranza, as the legitimate President of Mexico. Wilson, by March, ordered thousands of troops and personnel into Mexico, under General Pershing, to pursue Villa and his men.

Ultimately they failed to capture Villa, who was later killed by his own people rather than by American troops.

But consider that even Woodrow Wilson, usually described as one of our most liberal Presidents, was willing to send troops into Mexico, rather than let Villa and others like him cross our border at will and kill Americans. Consider that only 33 Americans were killed in these events which almost resulted in another war with Mexico.

Consider that now, our borders are a joke, and though there are thousands of troops supposedly defending our borders, nothing is being done to deter or repel the many thousands (how many? Nobody knows, apparently) of ‘migrants’ assailing our country.

I know that there are plenty of people on the right who are disgusted, or at least greatly disappointed at the administration’s decision to admit these people little by little and ‘process’ them as potential asylees or ‘refugees.’ Why didn’t they think of that back in 1916? They could have avoided a lot of bloodshed if only they had just invited everyone to come in. Villa et al were no doubt just looking for a better life.

Yes, I realize the obvious, that the situation in 1916 was much different in certain ways than the present crisis. Today the presence of women and children in the caravans, calculated and cynical though it appears, poses a quandary. Just as Mohandas Gandhi calculated that the British authorities in India would not generally use force against perceived ‘weak’ opponents, especially minors or the old or women, the organizers of this ‘caravan’ incursion count on our folk being too squeamish, too ‘nice’ to use any sort of force against the caravan people, even if the invaders instigate it.

Why were troops needed at the border? Was it just to keep the crowds civil as they queue up to be ‘processed’ ? President Trump tweeted that the caravan people should ‘turn around’ and basically to line up and cross legally, applying for citizenship ‘like millions of others.’

In other words, as the Free Republic crowd says, ”we love immigrants, as long as they do it legally, the right way.” This just reinforces the idea that a paper, a document makes anyone an American.

It seems not to matter that so far the ‘caravandals‘ as some Internet wit called them, have done very little in a legal or civil fashion. We’ve all read about the violence along the way, and the talk about many cartel members and common criminals amongst the thousands of border-crossers. But I do recall that Trump, during the 2016 campaign, spoke to all-Hispanic audiences, telling them that their people are ‘wonderful, wonderful people‘ and I remember his supportive words about the ”Dreamers.”  I supported Trump with a great many reservations. But  I’ve become very disillusioned, though I had few illusions to start with.

I don’t know what President Trump’s intentions were in talking tough and then reverting to the usual kid-glove approach with these wonderful, wonderful people. And I no longer believe in the excuse of ‘4-D chess’. It’s too much like the excuses made for G.W. Bush, (“He’s a great poker player; he’s gaming the system; he’s playing rope-a-dope.”)

For a very good take on this situation, see this piece by William S. Lind. I think his analysis is very good.

Meantime, we can only wonder what the next move is. Will the status quo prevail, and our usual coddling of the favored ‘migrants continue or can something change this stubborn and untenable situation?

 

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