Migrant Caravan Includes Gang Members or Criminals, Homeland Security Confirms

Geraldine Edwards
October 27, 2018

Vice President Mike Pence on Tuesday defended President Donald Trump's assertion that people from the Middle East are secretly traveling in a caravan headed through Mexico to the United States.

Thousands of men, women and children, mostly from Honduras, shuffled throughout the afternoon into the town of Mapastepec in Chiapas state, still more than 1,770 kilometres (1,100 miles) from the U.S. border.

Many nursed bleeding feet mangled by days of walking in plastic shoes or flip-flops.

Referring back to the migrant caravan moving through Mexico the President said, "A lot of people say, 'did they start that, did they infuse money into that?' I have no idea but I'll say, 'they overplay their hand every time and it hurts them'".

The caravan has become a politically loaded issue, with only two weeks to go before the United States votes in key midterm elections, in which Trump is seeking to protect the Republican majority on Capitol Hill. Trump wrote on Twitter.

The Pentagon will send "several hundred" troops to the United States-Mexico border, a USA official said Thursday, after President Donald Trump said the military would be used to tackle a "national emergency" on the border.

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America's Voice, a nonprofit immigrant advocacy organization, accused the administration of using fear and lies to whip up a "race-baiting frenzy" over border security ahead of the midterm elections.

And earlier this year, a caravan of approximately 1,200 people moving toward the USA had dwindled to 200 people by the time it reached California.

The "caravan", which has been estimated at up to 7,000 people or more in size is the second organized march in the region this year, the first having taken place in April in Mexico.

Central American migrants traveling with a caravan to the USA make their way to Pijijiapan, Mexico, Thursday, Oct. 25, 2018.

In a statement to Business Insider, Alyssa Farah, press secretary for the vice president, said, "In 2017 alone the U.S. apprehended on average 10 suspected terrorists a day attempting to enter the country illegally".

Trump has repeatedly claimed, without providing evidence, that Middle Eastern people are among the thousands of migrants marching toward the US. Migrants are gathering in a Guatemalan city, right on the border with Honduras.

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That is the shortest possible route, he said - about 2,700 kilometers. "I hope Mexico's going to come through".

The caravan began on October 13 in Honduras with 200 people.

"However, after attempts to prevent the caravan from entering Mexico on Sunday proved futile, the migrants have walked and/or traveled on the back of trucks or in other vehicles through Chiapas unimpeded", the news outlet repeated.

Large groups increase migrants' chance of safe passage, and they provide some sense of community and solidarity on the journey, as migrants themselves report. Last September, 32% were family members and unaccompanied children.

He said in another tweet "citizens of countries outside Central America, including countries in the Middle East, Africa, South Asia, and elsewhere are now traveling through Mexico toward the U.S".

With a homicide rate of 43 per 100,000 citizens, Honduras is one of the most violent countries in the world, according to a Honduran university study.

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President Donald Trump sought to turn the caravan into a political issue three weeks before midterm elections. There were 10 buses and the drivers had been instructed to carry the migrants to shelters in Tapachula.

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