Readers React: Do migrant caravans heading north signal the decline of the American empire?

Honduran migrants traveling through Mexico's Chiapas state take part in a caravan heading to the United States on Oct. 22.
Honduran migrants traveling through Mexico’s Chiapas state take part in a caravan heading to the United States on Oct. 22.
(Pedro Pardo / AFP/Getty Images)

To the editor: In “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,” 18th century English historian Edward Gibbon observed that Rome was “summoned to consider the propriety or danger of admitting or rejecting an innumerable multitude of barbarians who … driven by despair and hunger solicited a settlement on the territories of a civilized nation.”

Given the “migrant caravans” from Central America heading our way just before the Nov. 6 election, we should ponder Rome’s fate.

The peoples who existed at the fringes of the empire simply desired the civilization that Rome possessed. However, these new peoples inevitably supplanted the Romans who had become complacent and preferred “bread and circuses” over good government. Liberty was sacrificed for security, religious intolerance replaced reason, and civilization wavered.


The migrants pressing on our borders now are seeking refuge from the barbarisms of fear, hunger and hopelessness. Great wisdom is called for. Leaders on both sides of the border should heed the warning that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.

Kevin C. Glynn, Los Angeles


To the editor: These Central American pilgrims head to America in search of a better life for themselves and their families. We’ve seen this story before, when the English pilgrims first landed at Plymouth Rock, also in search of a better life.

Our country is wealthy beyond words because of the various backgrounds of all the immigrants from so many places. This country still needs an unending source of low-wage workers who will take the jobs Americans whose families have been here for generations will not.

We should welcome these new people.

Rob Macfarlane, Newport Beach


To the editor: Imagine this picture: Thousands of people from Central America arrive at our border and declare, “We’ve traveled hundreds of miles and now we’re here, so let us in!”

Apparently, they believe they have earned the right of entry by virtue of this display of collective misery and suffering, as if anyone from any country who suffers enough should be able to do the same.

Imagine a box that gets checked on the immigration form: Have you suffered at least this much? Yes. OK, you’re in.

I’m Armenian. My people were genocided by the Ottoman Turks during World War I. That’s a state-sponsored extermination. Can the Central Americans moving north beat that?

Arthur G. Saginian, Santa Clarita


To the editor: Once again, President Trump is doing the exact opposite of what is morally and ethically correct by threatening to cut aid to Central American nations.

The migrant caravan is a symptom of the larger humanitarian crisis in that part of the world. The U.S. should be increasing aid to Central American countries to help reduce the need for their citizens to flee countries like Honduras.

When these migrants make it to our southern border, the right and good thing to do is to greet them with food, blankets and medical attention, not a military barricade. Never before have I seen the United States so wrong about the correct response to a humanitarian crisis.

Matthew Vasko, Monterey Park

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