Chad Wolf, the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), made clear how the U.S. government would respond if an incoming migrant caravan reached the U.S. southern border.
“Being part of large group, like a caravan, provides no special treatment or benefits to those who participate. Unfortunately, there have been acts of reported violence by some involved in this caravan. The Department is prioritizing the safety and security of our officers and the American people,” Wolf said in a prepared statement released Wednesday.
“Should any members of the caravan reach the U.S-Mexico border, they will be processed accordingly and quickly removed, returned or repatriated,” he went on.
The statement comes as hundreds of mostly Honduran migrants are camped out on the Guatemala-Mexico border, hoping that Mexican authorities will allow them to pass. However, under immense pressure from the Trump administration, the Mexican government is not allowing them to continue to enter their territory. The strict border enforcement policies have left members of migrant caravan frustrated, and has even led to aggressive confrontations between the two sides.
Migrants on Monday began hurling rocks at Mexican national guard troops, which prompted them to fire tear gas to disperse the crowd and prevent them from advancing. Several national guard troops were left injured after the scuffle, but they successfully prevented any major breaches from the caravan.
The Mexican government has given the migrants a choice: apply for asylum in Mexico, where the president has offered them job opportunities in the southern region of the country; or face consequences should they enter illegally. Mexico has already begun deporting hundreds of caravan members back to Central America via bus and airplane.
The Trump administration — which at one time was very critical of Mexico’s perceived lack of cooperation — has heaped praise for their work at stopping the latest caravan from reaching the U.S. border.
“I commend the Government of Mexico for upholding their commitment to increased security and law enforcement at their southern border. The efforts by the Mexican National Guard and other officials have thus far been effective at maintaining the integrity of their border, despite outbreaks of violence and lawlessness by people who are attempting to illegally enter Mexico on their way to the United States,” Wolf said on Wednesday.
“DHS is monitoring the caravan closely, we have dozens of personnel on the ground in Central America assisting local immigration and security officials, which have already led to hundreds of individuals being stopped, apprehended and sent back to their home countries,” he added.
Ken Cuccinelli, the acting deputy director of DHS, and Mark Morgan, the acting commissioner of Customs and Border Protection also issued public statements, thanking the Mexican government for committing so much of its resources to blocking the caravan.
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