'Migrant Caravan' and the People Seeking Asylum

People, Identity & Culture
Social Justice
Caravan Migrant in Mexico City Seeking Asylum in U.S.

Wotancito/CC BY-SA 4.0

Grade Level:
High School
Common Core Standards:
Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening, Language
People, Identity & Culture
Social Justice

What is a 'Migrant Caravan'?

On October 12, 2018, a group of about 160 people from Honduras began traveling to the U.S. to seek asylum. Within two days, the group grew to 1,000 people. Because of the dangers along the way, many of the migrants decided to travel as a large group as they believed it would be safer. This is known as a “caravan.” Over the past decade, there’s been a rise in the number of unaccompanied children and families crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.

Who are the People Seeking Asylum and Why?

People from the Northern Triangle of Central American (Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador) say they are fleeing persecution, poverty and violence. Since the journey began, more people have joined the caravan from Guatemala and Mexico. Estimates vary as to how many people are part of the caravan but there is believed to be between 4,000 and 5,000 people. The migrants have been traveling by foot and will have traveled over 2,700 miles to reach the U.S. border.

What is Asylum?

Asylum is a protection given by a nation to someone who has left their home country because of a "well-founded fear of persecution," and it allows them to stay in their new country. Asylum in the United States has historically been granted to people from other countries already in the U.S. or at the border who meet the international law definition of a "refugee." The United Nations 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol define a refugee as a person who is unable or unwilling to return to his or her home country, and cannot obtain protection in that country, due to past persecution or a well-founded fear of being persecuted in the future "on account of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion." Congress incorporated this definition into U.S. immigration law in the Refugee Act of 1980.

U.S. Government's Response to Those Seeking Asylum

Expressing concerns about security, President Trump deployed troops to the border with orders to shut down lanes of traffic and add barbed wiring and barricades to prevent people from crossing the border. The Defense Department anticipates the number to fluctuate between 5,500 and 7,000 troops.

About this Lesson Plan

This lesson provides an opportunity for students to learn more about the migrant caravan, understand what political asylum (referred to here as “asylum”) is and reflect on the people’s stories and situations.

Learning Objectives:

  • Students will understand what the migrant caravan is, the intention of the people on it and what asylum is.
  • Students will consider the perspective of the people who are traveling on the caravan by listening to and reading about their stories and situations.
  • Students will reflect on and emphasize with people's situations by writing an essay or letter in response to stories and quotes about why people are seeking asylum.

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