Last week a militia patrolling the Mexico-New Mexico border that calls itself the United Constitutional Patriots caught a group of 200 or so men, women and children crossing the desert in search of safety and rest. These are the so-called asylum-seekers who have been walking from Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico in more and more numbers for the past few years. A million are expected to come knocking in this year alone.
They’re leaving their homelands because, as anybody who knows the slightest thing about the history of those places and their current state understands, their home countries are not so much shitholes, as the President might term it, but hellholes. Honduras, to focus on just one, has been named one of the most dangerous places in the world outside an active war zone for the past decade, and its government is so controlled by drug traffickers and Big Business that the only hope Hondurans have of living without fear of rape, murder or starvation is if there’s a coup. They’re praying for a coup. Short of that, there’s always the long march north, during which they risk more rape, murder, dehydration, and all other forms of physical and spiritual death, and at the end of which awaits the ICEboxes, abusive Homeland Security agents and, if they’re lucky and don’t get sent back to hell, low-wage work and second-class citizenship.
As those following Christ’s loving example used to chant:
We are the pure and chosen few
And all the rest are damned
There’s room enough in Hell for you
We don’t want Heaven crammed!
Any mother in Tegucigalpa willing to pack up her kids and make the 2200-mile trek to El Paso, across some of the most hellish terrain on earth, must really be fleeing something God-awful. America bills herself as the land of opportunity, but those people on the march aren’t flooding our border in hopes of scoring themselves a sprawling mansion with an infinity pool and shiny new Lam in the driveway; the only opportunity they’re looking for is the chance to work hard days and long hours, provide for their kids, and live in relative peace. This the old American Dream, so I was once told, and these people are the latest influx of dreamers, beginning with the Germans and the Irish and the Chinese and the Bohemians and the Jews and the Italians.
But to the members of United Constitutional Patriots, men like Jim Benvie, the group’s 43-year-old spokesman from Minnesota, the men, women and children coming over the border and turning themselves in to Border Patrol so they can petition from asylum—to “Bemidji” Benvie and everybody like him, these poor souls are nothing more than dirty, stupid, disease-infected invading criminals. (Larry Mitchell Hopkins, the group’s 69-year-old commandant, was arrested by the FBI in his home state of New Mexico on Saturday.)
Featured image: “Westward the Course of Empire Takes its Way” by Emanuel Leutze, 1862.