As the 4,000-strong migrant caravan reached the Guatemala-Mexico border late Friday, the Central Americans in tow charged through the border fence and were met by Mexican authorities armed with pepper spray and other non-lethal materiel which led to many retreating. Nevertheless, those waving flags and umbrellas at the border bridge crossing the brackish Suchiate River shouted, “One way or another, we will pass,” according to AP.
As police stood with riot shields, one migrant exclaimed, “We are going to the United States!” Others added, “Nobody is going to stop us!”
At a “Make America Great” rally in Missoula, Montana on Thursday night, President Donald Trump became even more vocal about the immigration crisis and lack of proper border security that has led to an “onslaught” of migrants traveling through the Central American subcontinent to the U.S. He has even warned that military action may be used to stop immigrants from crossing the southern border into the U.S. if Mexico does not act, adding that the situation is an “assault on our country.”
President Trump claims that solving the border crisis is “far more important” than new developments with international trade deals, including the revamp of the 24-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which has now been dubbed the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) in its rebirth.
Saturday morning, Trump took to Twitter to admonish congressional Democrats for remaining weak on border security. The President has charged Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA-14) to work with the White House on a solution to a problem that has yet to be fully addressed.
“If the Democrats would stop being obstructionists and come together, we could write up and agree to new immigration laws in less than one hour. Look at the needless pain and suffering that they are causing. Look at the horrors taking place on the Border. Chuck & Nancy, call me!”
Mexican government officials have reiterated that migrants entering the country must first apply for asylum status, and any who do not go through the proper channels will be turned away. Mexican Foreign Relations Secretary Luis Videgaray said those with passports and valid visas would be let in immediately, though he acknowledged that “we anticipate those are the minority.” Nonetheless, any who decide to cross illegally and are caught will be detained and deported.
In April, Mexican immigration officials had some success in dispersing a smaller caravan by processing many who decided to seek refugee status in Mexico, but some did continue on to the U.S. border. The 1,500-strong caravan organized by Pueblo sin Fronteras claimed their mission was to “provide shelter and safety to migrants and refugees in transit, accompany them in their journey, and together demand respect for our human rights.”
“Our dream is to build solidarity bridges among peoples and turn down border walls imposed by greed,” they said.
Trump accused the matter to be a leftist stunt orchestrated to take advantage of the situation with the faltering situation behind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Act.
As the caravan continues onward, questions have been raised about who exactly is funding the endeavor. After all, feeding 4,000 people, gas for vehicles, and other necessities is expensive. Moreover, those who claim they are fleeing Central and South America’s woeful economic conditions are not expected to have the resources vital for a transcontinental voyage.
Last week, Mexican Ambassador to the U.S. Geronimo Gutierrez said to Fox News host Bret Baier, “We have evidence that this caravan is also very much politically motivated.” Interestingly, just one day later, Irineo Mujica, the director of Pueblo Sin Fronteras, was arrested by Guatemalan police as the caravan reached the border with Mexico.
Just over two weeks before Election Day, it is almost certain that Democrats and Republicans will be using the situation creeping towards the U.S. as fodder for their respective political campaigns.