Trump threatens to close US-Mexico border over migrant 'onslaught'

Geraldine Edwards
October 24, 2018

Hundreds of mostly Honduran migrants began the long trek home on Saturday, some using free bus tickets from Central American authorities, while many more members of a stalled caravan remained in Guatemala at a tense border crossing with Mexico. There were 10 buses and the drivers had been instructed to carry the migrants to shelters in Tapachula.

More than 2,000 Honduran migrants travelling en masse through Guatemala resumed their journey toward the United States on Wednesday as U.S. President Donald Trump sought to turn the caravan into a political issue three weeks before midterm elections.

The decision to form a migrant caravan came after some migrants have up trying to enter Mexico legally because the asylum application process was too slow and most consider the their final destination is the USA, where Trump says he will close the border on them.

"The more the USA border has become militarized, the more migration has become the realm of organized criminal elements in Mexico, the more expensive it is for Central Americans, the more unsafe it is for Central Americans and the more that we're going to see these caravans that are a form of protection for Central Americans as they cross through Mexico", Oglesby said.

The decision to re-form the migrant caravan capped a day in which Mexican authorities again refused mass entry to migrants on the bridge, instead accepting small groups for asylum processing and giving out 45-day visitor permits to some.

"Full efforts are being made to stop the onslaught of illegal aliens from crossing our Souther [sic] Border ..."

The caravan has posed a significant dilemma for Mexican authorities, pitting the country's relations with the US against its asserted respect for human rights and compassion for migrants.

Cristian, who declined to give his last name because the gangsters had threatened him, estimated that about 30 per cent of the migrants want to apply for refugee status in Mexico, while the rest want to reach the United States.

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The president tweeted on Thursday that if necessary, he'd call in the US military to stop the thousands of migrants attempting to gain illegal entry into the country.

He added: "They said they weren't going to allow us to pass".

"There would be huge economic impacts for both the United States and Mexico ... but limited effect on illegal immigration", said Andrew Selee, president of the Migration Policy Institute.

US officials - and President Trump - warned the marchers when they started the march earlier this month in Honduras. "I'm not going to tolerate any more coming here through caravans, and we need to change our laws to disincentivize this behavior".

Early on Thursday, he threatened to close the U.S. border if Mexico let the migrants advance.

Migrants poured through Guatemalan border posts in the town of Tecun Uman and onto a bridge leading to Mexico, only to be halted by dozens of Mexican police in riot gear.

He earlier thanked Mexico for efforts to contain the migrants - fleeing poverty and gang violence in Honduras - on its southern border with Guatemala.

According to Oglesby, as border restrictions have tightened, the journey for migrants has become more expensive and risky, increasing incidences of extortion and the trafficking of women and children.

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Some 3,000 Central American migrants prepared to cross into Mexico from Guatemala on Friday with hopes of eventually arriving to the United States.

Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales said more than 5,000 migrants had entered Guatemala from Honduras, but that some 2,000 had since returned home.

Orellana says "the economy in Honduras is awful, there is nothing there".

They stopped about two blocks from the crossing before heading back, saying they would wait another hour or so. "And neither does our country want them in our country".

A force of more than 600 state and federal police have set up a roadblock some 5 kilometres outside Tapachula, apparently with the aim of halting the massive caravan before it reaches the city.

President Donald Trump has raged against the caravan, pinning blame in turn on Central American governments, U.S. asylum laws, and congressional Democrats. On Twitter, Trump said that wasn't enough and blamed the caravan on America's southern neighbors, Democrats and the nation's "pathetic Immigration Laws".

But as asylum-seekers, the migrants would not be citizens and would not be allowed to vote.

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