President Donald Trump claimed Central American migrant caravans slowly moving toward the U.S. include “very tough fighters” who “fought back hard and viciously” against Mexican soldiers at the border, in his latest warning about the migrants in the lead up to next week’s midterm election.
Trump said some of the soldiers were injured and overwhelmed by members of the caravans, the first of which is comprised mostly of women and children and the other made up of primarily young people. Trump’s tweet was referring to reports Sunday that a group of migrants broke through a gate at Guatemala’s border, clashing with local police.
The president was also critical of Mexico, declaring that Mexican soldiers “were unable, or unwilling to stop” the migrants. His Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, however, told Fox News that Mexico has “stepped up in an unprecedented way.”
Earlier this week, Trump ordered the deployment of 5,200 troops to the southwest border. Trump said Wednesday, “Many more troops are coming” and vowed not to allow the caravans, which he claimed include “some very bad thugs and gang members” to cross our “sacred” border.
The first caravan, whose numbers have dwindled to less than 4,000, was in the southern city of Juchitan on Wednesday, about 1,400 kilometers (870 miles) from McAllen, Texas.
The second, smaller U.S.-bound caravan of about 2,000 people forced its way into Mexico on Monday from the Guatemalan border. It settled down Tuesday in the Mexican town of Tapachula, an AFP reporter said. Tapachula is about 1,850 kilometers (1,150 miles) from McAllen.
Trump has used the caravans to rally his Republican base before the Nov. 6 midterm elections, declaring on several occasions their approach toward the United States constitutes a "national emergency."
In addition to deploying more troops to the border, Trump has escalated his criticism of the migrants recently. He said on Monday he wants to construct tent cities to house asylum-seekers indefinitely, an apparent disregard of court orders that forbid long-term detention of families or children.
On Tuesday, he announced plans to end by executive order the right to U.S. citizenship for babies born in the United States to noncitizens.
Trump said on Oct. 23 he had no evidence people of Middle Eastern descent joined the large caravan, toning down an allegation he had recently made.
"There's no proof of anything. But there could very well be," Trump said in remarks at the White House.
The migrants from Honduras say they are seeking to escape deteriorating crime-related, political and economic conditions. President Juan Orlando Hernandez was re-elected last November in an election many Hondurans suspected was fraudulent, but was recognized by the United States.
Migrants from El Salvador and Guatemala have also joined the caravans.
The U.N. Refugee Agency has urged the Trump administration to allow people fleeing persecution and violence to request asylum on U.S. territory. The United Nations says about 1,500 people from the caravans have asked for asylum in Mexico.
If the caravans follow the same approach of previous migrant groups, they are likely to continue to lose members in the coming weeks.
Source: VOA news