President TrumpDonald John TrumpStephen Miller: Trump to further crackdown on illegal immigration if he wins US records 97,000 new COVID-19 cases, shattering daily record Biden leads Trump by 8 points nationally: poll MORE said Monday that Mexico isn’t doing enough to stop “caravans” of migrants heading toward the United States.
Trump appears to be specifically referring to a group of about 1,100 people from Central America who are seeking political asylum in either Mexico or the United States.
The group was organized by Pueblo Sin Fronteras (People Without Borders), a nonprofit migrant rights group that works to provide humanitarian aid to refugees and migrants on the move.
The group’s destination is the U.S. border, and many may seek asylum in the United States upon reaching it.
Most of the people are from Honduras, and are seeking to escape what they say is persecution from the newly-elected government of Juan Orlando Hernández.
“They’re murdering lots of innocent people, or those from the opposition party, they’re attacking them and pulling them from their homes,” Josael Romero, one of the caravan organizers, told The Hill.
The group, traveling roughly 1,400 miles by foot, bus, truck or cargo train to the U.S.-Mexico border, set off from Tapachula, Mexico’s southernmost city, on March 25.
They will travel through the city of Puebla just south of Mexico City, where they will take in a seminar on Mexican and U.S. refugee and asylum law. They are then scheduled to visit Mexico’s Senate and the Honduran consulate in Mexico City.
Pueblo Sin Fronteras organized a similar caravan around Easter in 2017, in part as a safety measure for migrants and in part as a protest against dangerous conditions on the migrant trail through Mexico.
Trump has criticized the caravan, which has been the focus of some stories on Fox News, and called Monday for Mexico to stop the migrants at the border.
“They must stop them at their Northern Border, which they can do because their border laws work, not allow them to pass through into our country, which has no effective border laws,” the president said on Twitter.
Foreign nationals in Mexico must generally present an official document given to them upon entry to legally exit the country.
It’s unclear how many of the caravan members have passports or entered Mexico legally, but the group’s size and visibility is keeping Mexican authorities at arm’s length.
According to a report in BuzzFeed, Mexican immigration officers are monitoring the caravan from a distance, and Romero says it’s much safer for migrants to encounter Mexican police in large groups.
“There’s a great difference because now that we’re walking as a caravan the police doesn’t get into trouble,” said Romero. “After the caravan ends they go back to their usual activities and there’s a lot of corrupt police here in Mexico.”
A majority of the caravan’s members want to stay in Mexico, according to Romero.
And a report by the BBC found that less than 100 of the caravan’s members want to cross the U.S.-Mexico border.
This is because they’ll face fewer language difficulties, they already have work or family in Mexico, or they are deterred by Trump’s rhetoric and increased immigration enforcement, said Romero.
Still, Pueblo Sin Fronteras isn’t completely upset over the attention it is getting from Trump — a spotlight that could help the advocacy group.
“We’re a little bit scared but at the same time we’re a little bit happy because we got his attention,” said Romero.