Why the Migrant Caravan Is California Dreamin’

AZCentral.com recently ran an article purporting to explain why migrant caravans traveling from Central America inevitably take the longest route to the United States.

Typically, caravans trek 2,500 miles from the Northern Triangle (El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala) to Tijuana, eschewing closer border crossing points like Reynosa and Matamoros Texas, which are only about 1,200 miles from Central America.

According to unnamed “experts” and caravan organizers interviewed by the AZCentral.com, there are three reasons for avoiding the Texas ports of entry:

  • Avoiding criminal organizations that prey on migrants in the Mexican states of Tamaulipas and Veracruz. Both states must be crossed on the way to Reynosa and Matamoros.
  • Tijuana’s established network of shelters and humanitarian organizations that aid migrants.
  • Tijuana’s physical proximity to California, which has declared itself a “sanctuary state.”

But those aren’t the real reasons that caravanners prefer to try and cross the border into California. The truth of the matter is that the route is inextricably linked to legal strategy.

Federal courts are divided into judicial circuits. These circuits define the geographical limits of each court’s jurisdiction. Federal courts within the Ninth Circuit hear matters originating in California, including matters arising at the San Ysidro Port of Entry. The federal courts in the Fifth Circuit hear matters originating in Texas, including those arising at the Reynosa and Matamoros Ports of Entry.

The Ninth Circuit is known for its radically liberal stances on immigration matters. The so-called “Trump Travel Ban” case originated in the Ninth Circuit. However, the Fifth Circuit is noted for being conservative and constitutionalist in all things. It was a Federal District Court in Texas that struck down the Obama administration’s “Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents” (DAPA) program.

The end-game of caravan organizers has never been to obtain relief for poor and downtrodden Central Americans. It has always been to challenge Donald Trump’s immigration policies. And one of their main stratagems for accomplishing this goal has been to file suit in a federal court most likely to order  the Trump administration to admit all of the caravan members to the United States.

So the caravan had to end its journey at the San Ysidro Port of Entry, just outside San Diego. And, right on cue, an alien advocacy group filed a lawsuit on behalf of six caravan members and their minor children. A lawsuit that would have been promptly dismissed anywhere but in the Ninth Circuit.

People genuinely fleeing persecution head for the nearest safe location. They don’t walk an extra 1,200 miles, especially through the lawless territory that currently constitutes much of Mexico. On the other hand, people who have no legitimate claim to be admitted to the U.S. tend to head for the location where they are most likely to find the most sympathetic judicial ears. And that’s exactly what the caravan did.

About Author


Matthew J. O’Brien joined the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in 2016. Matt is responsible for managing FAIR’s research activities. He also writes content for FAIR’s website and publications. Over the past twenty years he has held a wide variety of positions focusing on immigration issues, both in government and in the private sector. Immediately prior to joining FAIR Matt served as the Chief of the National Security Division (NSD) within the Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate (FDNS) at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), where he was responsible for formulating and implementing procedures to protect the legal immigration system from terrorists, foreign intelligence operatives, and other national security threats. He has also held positions as the Chief of the FDNS Policy and Program Development Unit, as the Chief of the FDNS EB-5 Division, as Assistant Chief Counsel with U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement, as a Senior Advisor to the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman, and as a District Adjudications Officer with the legacy Immigration & Naturalization Service. In addition, Matt has extensive experience as a private bar attorney. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in French from the Johns Hopkins University and a Juris Doctor from the University of Maine School of Law.


  1. avatar

    I feel that all these so called Lawyers, Congress person, and so on , are haters of this Nation. Instead of securing the country and it’s borders, they are working on being disloyal to the country that helped them so much. Doing everything in their power to go again the first and most important person in this United States. The President. I have never seen the hatred, envy, cruelty to any other President. Who is behind all these. God knows. But God will punish all theses people …. one by one. Let,s just watch and wait.

  2. avatar

    Exactly. Plus the more that’s a no borders crowd put some online to encourage these lawbreakers, the more we will have breaking illegally into our country. That is why WE NEED a wall.

  3. avatar

    Sports stadiums and arenas are walled off with only defined entry gates to control the flow of people in and out. This is to ensure that teams’ owners get their money from the ticket sales and no one comes in without paying the price of admission. What is so difficult about this concept that those in Congress cannot understand ( or do they purposely misunderstand? ) that our borders need to function in that same way. Funnel people in and out through defined entry points, and not through wide open territory! Congress will do anything to keep Trump from getting a win because it makes them look bad since they’ve had years to act and haven’t done anything!

    • avatar

      Great analogy using sports stadiums being walled off with only defined entry gates. I am going to use this analogy my self when talking to a open borders person and a Democrat.

  4. avatar
    dale a peterson on

    San Diego is 4th place in the nation dealing with homeless crisis. Newsom D, want San Diego to deal with immigrates crossing the border. How can we? We need security at south border first.East county rual area we deal with illegal human traffic crossing over our land open from Tecate. Some make demands on us. Petty theft, grand, refuse to leave, criminals, drugs keep BP and our 2 full time sheriffs busy.

    • avatar

      In Arizona there’s rancher with lines an lines of bicycles..left by crossers..
      There cattle get caught in them offer breaking legs…water lines are cut..garbage by the TONS.cant hange laundry on lines..gardens dug up..if barn doors not locked at night .they find sleepers in the morning..the corners of stalls used as bathrooms…
      There garden dogs poisoned or ?? Found dead.
      For years this goes on. An our government offers to help..

  5. avatar

    And to Add to the Crash of the Open Border Party [OBP]

    The OBP is exposed for what it is….it will use a Russian Collusion excuse way off the tracks to cover up their greatest fear. A sovereign nation America with borders for once…they hate Trump’s guts.

  6. avatar

    Media trying to blame the Border Patrol for the death of the 7 year old girl from Guatemala when the fact is she was in custody for only a few hours. Her father said she hadn’t eaten in days. It’s both his fault and the Democrats who keep encouraging these people to come here by insisting they all be admitted to this country even though almost all of them are coming here for economic reasons. A wall or fence would discourage this.

    Amnesty International has documented for many years that the journey through Mexico is far more dangerous than any supposed danger in their home countries. They flatly state that a majority of the women, including young teenagers, are sexually assaulted, with many families putting their women and girls on birth control for the duration of the journey. Thousands of men have disappeared in Mexico, the victims of gangs who steal their money or hold them for ransom from their families which they are unable to pay. Amnesty International says that Mexican authorities ignore this behavior or even participate in it.

    Media spin is that Trump is guilty of a felony for breaking campaign finance law, even though his payouts to two women were his own money. The twisted logic is that the payouts “helped his campaign” by suppressing negative information. That could open up a can of worms with far more egregious examples. For many years Congress had a slush fund that secretly paid out settlements from not campaign funds but taxpayer funds to women who claimed harassment by sitting members of Congress. Does CNN have to declare the help they gave to Hillary by slipping her debate questions twice. Should Hillary? How about the top leadership of the DNC who, as revealed by Wikileaks, rigged the primary process in favor of her and against Bernie? A level field might very likely have given him the nomination.

    • avatar

      Lots of media stories about the 7 year old girl who died, all emphasizing the “extreme poverty” of where she came from. First of all, the father paid a smuggler, which is several thousand dollars at a minimum. Second there are pictures of the family, including the mother and grandfather back home, who are in turn showing pictures of the girl before she left on the journey. And they are showing those pictures on I phones. Where does the money for that come from. The fact is that when you look at these “caravans” supposedly fleeing poverty they are usually neatly dressed and carrying phones. It may be a better life here but it can’t be that bad there. Certainly nothing to drag your children through hundreds of miles of desert with no food and water for days on end so it improves their chances of staying here. . Who is it that’s being “heartless”.

  7. avatar

    ==??? WHY ???>>Because is too Many Latinos , Too Many Welfare , Too Many Sanctuary Cities , and The Governor , is Democrat, ??? and The Democrats Support the Illegals People ,

  8. avatar
    Diana Talmadge on

    We have our own people living in homeless camps, cars eating in shelters & out of dumpsters…The overburdened American taxpayer cannot support Central American freeloaders ..we must take care of our own poor citizens.

    • avatar

      Years ago..my son’s family moved into a “nice” neighbor.. before buying..checked I to schools..get the point…
      A few years later kids in school now..came home talking about school supplies.
      List sent home…then supplies taken to school..and. Put in the common box.
      Supplies are to be..shared..
      These supplies are a few hundred dollars..not cheap..
      So Grama Asked…WHAT ????
      My grandkids tell me..the “car kids” don’t have money to get stuff.
      A car kid..is a kid with no home..most living in there cars some live under bridges but go to school with us…how dad you day untill….
      Your car kid gives lice to the class…or there lunch’s are free but you pay $25.00 a week for one child…
      Yes this is sad but this is the way..p.s..
      You kids starts speaking Spanish at dinner..

  9. avatar

    Everyone’s heard of “judge shopping” but a 1200 mile detour demonstrates the contrast between a real legal venue and the “Ninth Circus” rather starkly, wouldn’t you say?