Migrant ‘caravan’ starts to arrive at US border, Trump orders officials to repel them
The migrants have travelled over 3,000 kilometres from the Guatemalan border. (Reuters: Edgard Garrido)
Dozens of Central American migrants traveling in a “caravan” through Mexico have arrived at the border city of Tijuana despite warnings it would be futile to try to cross to claim asylum in the United States.
- Donald Trump has threatened Mexico with conditions on the NAFTA agreement
- The migrants fled their countries for fear of political persecution
- Some migrants have decided to stay in Mexico and attempt to gain temporary visas
The migrants are from a group of about 600 heading towards the border.
By evening, two busloads of men, women and children arrived in Tijuana, a city that grazes the border to southern California.
US President Donald Trump has ordered officials to repel them.
The arrivals spilled into the streets and gazed toward San Diego, visible at spots through a rusty barrier or across a pedestrian bridge, exhausted after their trek that began a month ago near Mexico’s southern border with Guatemala.
Hondurans make up the majority of the caravan members headed for the US border. (AP: Felix Marquez)
Another four busloads were making their way north from Hermosillo, a city 695 kilometres south of the border, where the migrants had been stalled for days.
Many who fled their homes in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras because of what they described as lethal threats or political persecution have clung to the hope of receiving asylum in the United States.
But their prospects dimmed after US authorities released statements on Monday saying they would be driven back.
Mr Trump, who is strongly against the migrant’s mission to reach the US, tweeted that he had “instructed the Secretary of Homeland Security not to let these large Caravans of people into our Country.”
“Mexico, whose laws on immigration are very tough, must stop people from going through Mexico and into the US. We may make this a condition of the new NAFTA Agreement,” Mr Trump tweeted.
In response, Mexico’s Secretary of Foreign Affairs Luis Videgaray tweeted, “It would be unacceptable to condition the NAFTA negotiations on immigration actions that are outside that framework.”
“Mexico decides its own immigration policy in a sovereign manner, and Mexico’s cooperation on immigration matters with the United States occurs because Mexico considers it in its own interest,” Mr Videgaray wrote.
Rodrigo Abeja, a coordinator from the immigrant rights group that organises the caravan, said they planned to regroup before making any further decision.
“They will wait for all those seeking asylum to be together,” Mr Abeja said.
A third group, resigned to staying in Mexico, awaited processing for year-long visas by immigration authorities in Hermosillo.
Traveling as a group for safety, their numbers were down from a peak of about 1,500 people, dwindling under the twin pressures of waiting for transportation and verbal attacks by Mr Trump, who began lashing out at the caravan on Twitter in early April.
After Mr Trump’s comments, Mexican authorities stalled the caravan in a southern town and began handing out temporary visas that gave them legal status to travel to the border.