A caravan of Central American immigrants was left waiting in the balance in Hermosillo, on Monday, April 23, 2018. They were in the final stretch to the United States, however, President Donald J. Trump ordered officials to repel them.
Six-hundred people from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras were waiting to board a train or buses in Hermosillo, Sonora, t travel the last 432 miles to the boarder of California.
Generally, caravans of immigrants travel in groups of 1,500 for safety. Smaller groups broke away throughout the journey.
Many of the women and the children in the group wanted to seek asylum in the United States after they reached Tijuana, according to Rodrigo Abeja. He is a coordinator for Pueblo Sin Fronteras, an immigrant rights group that has been organizing caravans for years.
According to Reuters, as the impoverished group traveled from town to town “became a lightning rod” for U.S.-Mexican relations. Trump released a succession of tweets early in April, telling Mexican authorities to stop the caravan.
Trump lashed out on Twitter again on Monday. He threatened to stall the already strained NAFTA renegotiations if the caravan was not stopped.
He tweeted, “I have instructed the Secretary of Homeland Security not to let these large Caravans of people into our country. It’s a disgrace. We are the only Country in the World, so Naïve! WALL.”
After hearing about Trump’s tweets, the caravan considered applying for asylum in Mexico, according to a Reuters witness, who was traveling with the migrants.
The current caravan coincides with the recent border patrol numbers that show a sharp increase in the number of immigrants illegally crossing the border. This is viewed as a setback because immigration from Central America have dissolved in the months after the election.
It is unclear if the group will disperse before arriving at the California border, or what will if the caravan arrives. Nevertheless, there are indications that the U.S. is preparing legal defenses.
U.S. Attorney Jeff Sessions said he ordered officials to ensure there are a sufficient number of prosecutors and immigration judges “to adjudicate any cases that may arise from this caravan.”
Some migrants said they would stay in Mexico. Others said they would find another way to cross the border. However, at least 200 migrants said they would claim asylum if they made if across the border, according to immigrants and caravan organizers who spoke to Reuters.
According to a U.S.-based immigration attorney, who met the caravan at a stop, many of the immigrants have a strong case for asylum. These people face political persecution, death threats from gangs, or violence due to gender or sexual identity, according to attorney Marie Vincent.
One o these cases is a flawed witness protection program in Honduras. This person has been shot at and stabbed more times than he can count. Faced with death threats, he fled to Guatemala and then to Mexico from a hospital. He was still attached to all the tubes – one hung from his stomach.
Some members of the group have been discouraged from seeking asylum die to warning about detention conditions
Despite the high homicide rates in El Salvador and Honduras, the rejected number of claims from those countries is steep.
By Jeanette Smith
Reuters: Migrant ‘caravan’ that angers Trump nears U.S.-Mexico border
Image Courtesy of Andy Thornley’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License