Over the weekend the first stories surfaced of a “caravan” forming in Honduras with the intent of moving through Mexico into the United States:
Thousands of migrants are about to arrive at Mexico’s doorstep. And US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is meeting with officials in Mexico’s capital to discuss the situation.
The Honduran migrants, trekking in a caravan toward Mexico’s southern border, say they’re heading for the United States — fleeing violence and searching for economic opportunity.
Pompeo, meanwhile, is heading into meetings in Mexico City with a message for leaders there about the massive caravan of migrants: Stop them before they reach the US border.
The key questions: Will Mexico let the migrants in? And what will happen if they do?
This presented the administration with an in-your-face challenge. Attempts to cross the US border are increasing and the larding of the stream of illegals with “children” threatens to send us back to the bad old days of “catch and release” because of legal constraints on how we can process illegals with minor children. It is sort of a replay of the last “caravan” back in April when Mexico proved to be a lot less than helpful.
PHOTOS: Honduran migrants in a caravan hoping to reach the U.S. pass through Guatemala’s capital and set their sights set on the border with Mexico. Photos by @moises1975 https://t.co/oZZ4UT2Xmf pic.twitter.com/jhlAAI45Ua
— The Associated Press (@AP) October 18, 2018
The administration reacted forcefully to this challenge. On Tuesday, President Trump threatened Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Mexico with a loss of US aid if they didn’t take steps to stop this caravan.
The United States has strongly informed the President of Honduras that if the large Caravan of people heading to the U.S. is not stopped and brought back to Honduras, no more money or aid will be given to Honduras, effective immediately!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 16, 2018
We have today informed the countries of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador that if they allow their citizens, or others, to journey through their borders and up to the United States, with the intention of entering our country illegally, all payments made to them will STOP (END)!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 17, 2018
Two days ago, the Mexican government dispatched two planeloads of Federal police to the Honduran border, though, according to official statments, they were not there to stop the caravan.
Five hundred federal police officers in riot gear arrived on Wednesday in Tapachula, Chiapas on the border with Guatemala, where some 4,000 migrants are now marching northward.
The presence of federal forces on the southern border of the country is not to stop migrants from crossing the border, but to help immigration officials maintain order, Mexican Federal Police Commissioner Manelich Castilla Craviotto told Noticeros Televisia.
‘The INM reiterates its unrestricted commitment to respect the human rights of migrants,’ said Mexico’s National Institute of Migration, a government agency that controls and supervises immigration.
And yesterday, Trump threatened to use federal troops to prevent the caravan from entering the US.
….In addition to stopping all payments to these countries, which seem to have almost no control over their population, I must, in the strongest of terms, ask Mexico to stop this onslaught – and if unable to do so I will call up the U.S. Military and CLOSE OUR SOUTHERN BORDER!..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 18, 2018
The threat was sufficiently potent to get Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to make an ad hoc visit to Mexico City today.
The combination of threats and diplomacy seems to have worked…at least for now.
A caravan of migrants near Mexico’s southern border with Guatemala on Friday has turned back from its planned sojourn to the U.S. in the face of a heavy presence of Mexican and Guatemalan law enforcement officers, according to media reports.
The Associated Press reported that thousands of migrants stopped about two blocks from the Guatemala-Mexican border crossing before turning around, saying they would wait another hour or so.
The border post, reports the AP, is guarded by a heavy security force and tall metal gates. Dozens of Mexican federal police officers are on the border bridge, with hundreds more behind them. In Guatemala, government authorities closed its border gate and are standing guard with dozens of troops and two armored jeeps.
Mexico’s ambassador to Guatemala says his country has decided to enforce a policy of “metered entry” since thousands of migrants are clamoring to cross, says the AP.
The caravan has arrived at the gate to the Mexico/Guatemala bridge, held off by riot police.
“We want to work,” some yell. pic.twitter.com/pZKSwzsiiR
— KarlaZabs (@karlazabs) October 19, 2018
.@BillWeirCNN is at the Guatemala-Mexico border, where he's reporting that hundreds of police officers are setting up barricades and padlocking a fence. Mexico officials say they're trying to “ensure a safe and orderly and humane passage for all migrants.” https://t.co/SjJFhZOmVL pic.twitter.com/lemJxWx3Ut
— CNN (@CNN) October 19, 2018
But while most of the caravan has disbanded, some are persisting.
BREAKING: Migrants in caravan tear down border gate in Guatemala, rush toward border bridge into Mexico.
— The Associated Press (@AP) October 19, 2018
Media scrambles to figure out how this can be spun as a loss for Trump https://t.co/LoMm5ot1xU
— John Hayward (@Doc_0) October 19, 2018
This could be a turning point.
The Mexican illegal immigration problem is much more manageable that that presented by Central Americans. A large number of Mexican illegals are not interested in being permanent US residents. They are here to earn money to improve their standard of living at home. The have become permanent illegals because the difficulty of crossing the border has increased. Much of the Mexican problem can be solved by a system of work visas. Central Americans, on the other hand, have different goals. You don’t spend several thousand dollars to work in the US temporarily. So there is a very valuable quid pro quo available here for Mexico.
What the administration has done here in engaging Mexico to be part of the solution, not just more of the problem, is significant if it can be sustained.
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