“Full efforts are being made to stop the onslaught of illegal aliens from crossing our Southern Border,” Trump tweets
NEW YORK, Oct 21, 2018: A growing caravan of Honduran migrants streamed through southern Mexico on Sunday heading toward the United States, after making an end-run around Mexican agents who briefly blocked them at the Guatemalan border.
They received help at every turn from sympathetic Mexicans who offered food, water and clothing. Hundreds of locals driving pickups, vans and cargo trucks stopped to let them clamber aboard.
In dozens of interviews along the journey, they have said they are fleeing widespread violence, poverty and corruption in Honduras. The caravan is unlike previous mass migrations for its unprecedented large numbers, and because it largely began spontaneously through word of mouth.
Guatemala’s migration agency confirmed that another group of about 1,000 migrants crossed into the country from Honduras on Sunday.
After praising Mexico for its no-nonsense response when police at a southern border bridge pushed the migrants back with riot shields and pepper spray, U.S. President Donald Trump again hammered Democratic Party opponents over what he apparently sees as a winning issue for Republicans a little over two weeks ahead of midterm elections (November 6).
After blaming the Democrats for “weak laws” on immigration a few days earlier, Trump said via Twitter that the caravan was an “assault on our country at our Southern Border.” “The Caravans are a disgrace to the Democrat party. Change the immigration laws NOW!”
“Full efforts are being made to stop the onslaught of illegal aliens from crossing our Southern Border,” he said in another tweet. “People have to apply for asylum in Mexico first, and if they fail to do that, the U.S. will turn them away. The courts are asking the U.S. to do things that are not doable!”
Hundreds of migrants from the caravan did just that — applied for refugee status in Mexico in the southern city of Ciudad Hidalgo. By Sunday evening, the Interior department reported that it had received more than 1,000 requests.
But a far bigger group forded the Suchiate River from Guatemala to the Mexican side individually and dozens at a time, and resumed the trek at first light, marching 10 abreast on the highway.
“Si se pudo!” they chanted in Spanish — “Yes, we did!”
The throng grew even larger than when the migrants arrived at the border bridge, swelling overnight to 5,000.
It was not immediately clear where the additional travelers came from since about 2,000 had been gathered on the Mexican side Saturday night. But people have been joining and leaving the caravan daily, some moving at their own pace and strung out in a series of columns.
Federal police monitored the caravan’s progress from a helicopter and had a few units escorting it. Outside Tapachula, about 500 black-uniformed officers briefly gathered along the highway on buses and in patrol units, but they said their orders were to maintain traffic and not to stop the caravan. They moved on toward the city before the caravan reached them.
Mexico’s Interior Department said in a statement that federal and Chiapas state authorities were providing assistance to migrants, including legal counseling for those who applied for asylum. It released a video showing workers doling out food, medicine and medical treatment.
In comments to reporters after a rally in Elko, Nevada, on Saturday night, Trump said of Mexico’s response: “I just want to say, on behalf of the American public, that we appreciate what Mexico is doing. They’ve really stepped up, and it will not be forgotten.”
Trump also repeated: “I will seal off the border before (the migrants) come into this country, and I’ll bring out our military, not our reserves.”
Mexican President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said he was suggesting to Trump that the United States, Canada and Mexico seek an agreement to invest in development in Central America and southern Mexico, which is home to many of that country’s poor.
“In this way we confront the phenomenon of migration, because he who leaves his town does not leave for pleasure but out of necessity,” said Lopez Obrador, who takes office Dec. 1.