A caravan of mostly Central Americans began its trek toward the United States over the weekend, setting the stage for what will likely be another showdown between border enforcement officials and migrants.
Around 1,200 migrants formed a caravan in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas and, following the same route as numerous groups before them, started their journey northward Saturday, according to Reuters. The U.S.-bound group is made of mostly Central Americans from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, but also includes Cuban migrants.
The National Migration Institute — a department within the government of Mexico that tracks immigration — said the migrants were already within the country before they decided to assemble into a caravan near the country’s southern border with Guatemala.
The latest caravan will likely further inflame tensions between these Central American countries and the White House. President Donald Trump, who has made increased immigration enforcement a hallmark of his executive agenda, has threatened Central American governments with repercussions for allowing migrants to freely make their way to the U.S.
“… Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador are doing nothing for the United States but taking our money. Word is that a new Caravan is forming in Honduras and they are doing nothing about it. We will be cutting off all aid to these 3 countries – taking advantage of U.S. for years!” Trump tweeted in late December upon the news of a 15,000-person caravan heading northward.
The number of migrants arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border has surged in recent months, with the Department of Homeland Security predicting nearly 100,000 apprehensions by the end of this month — which would mark the highest number in over a decade.
Unlike in the early 1990s and early 2000s, the migrants getting apprehended today are mostly Central American and unaccompanied children, individuals who cannot be as easily deported as adult Mexican nationals. Border enforcement resources have been stretched thin because of this, forcing overcrowded Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facilities to release about 100,000 illegal aliens in the past three months.
The vast number of migrants are also submitting so many asylum requests that border checkpoints have buckled under the weight. Officials with the El Paso Border Patrol sector revealed that they temporarily closed their highway checkpoints due to the record amount of asylum requests.
The Trump administration has begun implementing what is known as the “remain in Mexico” policy in response to the immigration and asylum surge, The directive calls for foreign nationals who claim asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border to remain within the Mexican interior as their case runs through the U.S. immigration court system. The new policy is meant to curb abuse by asylum seekers who do not show up to their court date and simply disappear in the U.S. after making their claim.
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