Migrants fleeing violence and extreme poverty in Central America became the coffee house topic of discussion in the River Region. The League of Women Voters met for two hours at the Starbucks in Martinez.
“One of the main points was that this is not entirely new what is happening right now,” said Heather Chiero, Augusta University Associate Professor of History. “The surge in the numbers of people that are coming is new.”
Chiero, who led the League of Women Voters immigration discussion Thursday, talked with the small group on how thousands heading to Mexico and the U.S. are doing so because of this country’s government.
“Wait to you see what happens over the next few weeks. You’re going to see a very secure border.”
That was President Donald Trump’s message to the public this week.
Chiero replied, “But the connection of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and other nations that are coming up through Mexico and into our southern border has everything to do with U.S. foreign policy and past history as much as it has to do with poverty and gang violence.”
She also said drug and gang violence and the widening rich and poor gap forced people out of their homelands. But she said that exodus stems from the U.S. involvement in the 20th century.
“Mexico cannot and probably will not be able to stop the flood of migrants that are entering. And the problem that ends up being apparent for the United States is how do we equate a humanitarian crisis with the obvious national security threats that all of this poses, especially with nations that do not have the economic resources or possibly the inclination to stem that tide.”
Chiero added that many of those migrants are not Spanish speaking and have no cultural affinity with what we might think of as Latinos in the U.S.