Approximately 1,000 Central American migrants crossed freely into Mexico Wednesday, June 5, saying their goal is to get to the U.S. border and request asylum.
President Donald Trump has stated repeatedly that Mexico must not allow mass numbers of migrants to travel freely through Mexico to the United States and recently threatened to impose tariffs on Mexico if it continues to allow large caravans to reach the U.S. border.
Large migrant caravans from Central America have traveled freely and in the open along Mexico’s highways throughout 2018 and also in recent months, increasing in number as they have moved toward the United States.
This most recent group of migrants crossed freely over the Mexico-Guatemala border and was headed for Tapachula, the main city in the region. State and local police accompanied the caravan.
Mexican officials are reportedly waiting alongside a highway near the town of Metapa, about 11 miles from Tapachula.
The officials were unarmed and said their orders were to encourage the migrants to board buses that would carry them to a fairground outside Tapachula where the migrants will register and be housed. Whether the migrants will voluntarily halt their advance, board the buses, and agree to be registered remains to be seen.
The caravans have become an increasing problem for regular Mexican citizens as well. The initial caravans last year were welcomed in southern Mexican towns, but as additional caravans continued to pass through the towns complained they did not have the resources to keep feeding and caring for the migrants.
Some U.S. officials have suggested designating Mexico a “safe third country.” This would force Central Americans who are traveling through Mexico to seek asylum in Mexico rather than applying for asylum in the United States.
Speaking to reporters in Washington where he has traveled for talks since President Trump threatened tariffs, Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard was not pleased with the idea of the migrants staying in Mexico and said, “An agreement about a safe third country would not be acceptable for Mexico. They have not yet proposed it to me. But it would not be acceptable and they know it.”
The migrants said their aim is to request asylum once reaching the United States.
Those who support open borders said the migrants are mostly women and children fleeing oppression and violence, however independent camera crews who have recorded the caravans have seen that the majority were mostly young men.
Many who are joining the caravans on route are blending in with the crowd and are of unknown origin. There have been people from multiple countries found among the caravans once reaching the U.S. border. This is of major concern to U.S. officials as individuals with various motives could cross into the United States with the caravans, including in mass rushes to cross the border. These individuals have been seen and caught on camera in the past year.
Illegal immigration across the southern U.S. border has been reaching record numbers.
Last week border authorities said a group of more than 1,000 migrants crossed the border illegally in El Paso, Texas, which was caught on security cameras. It was the largest single crossing that border control has ever encountered.
When asked about the border situation while in the UK President Trump responded in unambiguous terms.
”But even beyond the laws, Mexico shouldn’t allow millions of people to try and enter our country and they could stop it very quickly. And I think they will and if they won’t we’re going to put tariffs on and every month those tariffs go from 5% to 10% to 15% to 20 and then to 25%. And what will happen then is all of those companies that have left our country and gone to Mexico are going to be coming back to us. And that’s OK,” said the president.