President Trump again claimed victory in his campaign of misinformation against a group of desperate Central American refugees fleeing poverty, political strife and gang violence.
Trump has repeatedly mischaracterized the so-called “caravan” of migrants making their way across Mexico in recent days as a fleet of foreigners intent on invading the U.S.
The annual trek, organized by a group called Pueblo Sin Fronteras, or People Without Borders, has prompted a week of rage-filled tweets from Trump and the vow to send National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border.
While a handful of the migrants may attempt to cross into the U.S. and some are planning to seek asylum, the yearly march is mostly held to raise awareness to the dangers of fleeing gang violence or political upheaval and corruption in Central American nations.
Many of the Honduran and Salvadorian migrants were attempting to visit embassies and consulates in Mexico, hoping to be recognized as asylum seekers, organizers said.
The group has been stalled in southern Mexico for days as Trump repeatedly claimed that “thousands” were marching north and aiming to enter the U.S. illegally.
Late Tuesday, Mexican foreign minister Luis Videgaray tweeted that the caravan had “disbanded.”
According to several reports, the nearly 1,200-strong group remained intact.
Trump on Thursday incorrectly claimed credit for Mexican authorities cracking down on the group.
“The Caravan is largely broken up thanks to the strong immigration laws of Mexico and their willingness to use them so as not to cause a giant scene at our Border,” Trump tweeted Thursday. “Because of the Trump Administrations actions, Border crossings are at a still UNACCEPTABLE 46 year low. Stop drugs!”
Despite Trump’s claims, Mexican immigration officials are offering most of the caravan migrants either a 20-day transit visa through Mexico or a 30-day humanitarian visa for those who want to apply for asylum in Mexico.
Trump at turns blasted Mexico for allowing the mass of migrants to trek across its country and also praised the country’s immigration laws as tougher than the U.S.
On Easter Sunday, Trump began his assault on the asylum-seekers following a Fox News segment about the group.
“Border Patrol Agents are not allowed to properly do their job at the Border because of ridiculous liberal (Democrat) laws like Catch & Release,” he wrote. “Getting more dangerous. ‘Caravans’ coming.”
A day later, he tore into Mexico, his rival Democrats and made the case for his long-sought border wall.
“Caravans are heading here. Must pass tough laws and build the WALL. Democrats allow open borders, drugs and crime!” Trump tweeted.
The first People Without Borders caravan was organized in 2010 in the wake of the kidnapping and killing of more than 70 undocumented Central American migrants by members of a Mexican drug cartel.
“These people are frustrated and desperate,” volunteer Rodrigo Abeja told NBC News as he described those fleeing home.
Abeja said the group contained more people from Honduras — where violent protests following a contested election were shut down by military forces — than in previous years.
“About 80% of them are from Honduras,” he said. “We have around 300 minors ranging from 1-month-old to 11-years-old. As of the rest of the people, we have about 20 youths who identify as LGBT and about 400 women.”
Mexican immigration agents swarmed the camp in Matias Romero, roughly 400 miles southeast of Mexico City, on Monday after Trump started tweeting about the caravan.
The agents decided to issue most of the travelers “exit visas,” which the Mexican government has previously granted Central American caravans and other travelers seeking to reach the U.S.
Organizers said the caravan will not disperse, instead heading north soon.
Organizer Irineo Mujica said the group plans to head to Puebla, about 200 miles north, where migrants will meet with volunteer lawyers from the U.S. who are expected to help them figure out whether they might qualify for asylum or other types of immigration relief in the United States.
Send a Letter to the Editor