The Mexican government has started issuing transit or humanitarian visas to members of a Central American-immigrant caravan making its way north.
The traveling immigrants, 80 percent of them from violence-ridden Honduras, are seeking asylum in either Mexico or the U.S. Many intend to start new lives in Mexico, but some plan to settle on American soil, including in New York and Houston.
The “Stations of the Cross” caravan, organized by the group Pueblo Sin Fronteras, has been an annual Easter tradition since 2010, intended to raise awareness of immigrants. The event got inflated media attention this year when it attracted many more people than organizers expected, reaching around 1,200 migrants. In the past, the group has dispersed in southern Mexico, although some travelers make their way farther north alone.
Mexico is doing very little, if not NOTHING, at stopping people from flowing into Mexico through their Southern Border, and then into the U.S. They laugh at our dumb immigration laws. They must stop the big drug and people flows, or I will stop their cash cow, NAFTA. NEED WALL!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 1, 2018
“The big Caravan of People from Honduras, now coming across Mexico and heading to our ‘Weak Laws’ Border, had better be stopped before it gets there,” President Trump warned Mexico on Twitter.
Trump also called on Congress to fund his signature border wall, which he claims would stop an influx of illegal immigrants.
Families are said to be confused as to why Trump slammed the caravan participants as well as the Mexican government for allowing them to pass. Living conditions for the travelers are somewhat rough, as they survive on small portions of donated food and sleep outside.
Mexico’s government downplayed the caravan in a statement on Tuesday, calling it a “public demonstration that seeks to draw attention to the migratory phenomenon and the importance of respect for the rights of Central American migrants, which in many cases, they are forced to leave their places of origin in search of better opportunities or with the intention of obtaining international protection through the figure of the ‘refuge.'”
The country washed its hands of responsibility for where the migrants end up, simply telling travelers that if they leave Mexico they must “comply with the requirements for entry” of the country they wish to enter.
“It is not the responsibility of this government to exercise immigration decisions of the United States or any other nation, so it will be the competent authorities of the American Union that decide, if appropriate, to authorize or not the entry into its territory of the members of the caravan that request it through the authorized entry and exit ports,” the statement added.
Mexico’s National Institute of Immigration did say it would disperse the group, however, and there were signs that such an effort was underway this week. Close to 400 of the immigrants have already been deported back to their home countries, the Mexican government said.
The caravan will make last stops in Puebla and Mexico City this week.