News & Politics

Most Migrants Plan to Stay in Mexico as Caravan Stalls Far from U.S. Border

Central American migrants gather at a sports center in Matias Romero, Oaxaca state, Mexico, Monday, April 2, 2018. (AP Photo/Felix Marquez)

A caravan of about 1,200 Central American migrants making its way to the U.S. border has taken a break in a small hamlet in southern Mexico, with most of the group deciding to remain there, the Daily Mail reported on Wednesday. Only “a small handful of migrants with strong claims for asylum” will continue on to the border, according to reports.

“We will wrap up our work in Mexico City,” said Irineo Mujica, the head of the migrant advocacy group People Without Borders (Pueblo sin Fronteras). “We have support teams at the border if there are people who need assistance there, but they would have to travel on their own,” he told AFP in the town of Matias Romero in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca.

Pueblo sin Fronteras is the far-left open borders group behind the annual “Migrant Stations of the Cross caravan” or “Via Crucis.”

The traveling throng has in recent days inspired a number of indignant Twitter posts from President Trump, who vowed to send the military to the border to stop them. He threatened to axe the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) if Mexico did not stop the migrants.

“All they want is a place to live in peace, where they can work without having guns pointed at them, without being forced to join a gang,” said Mujica.

Mujica praised the Mexican government for its response to their effort.

“Donald Trump wanted the world to crush us, to erase our existence. But Mexico responded admirably and we thank the government for the way it handled this caravan,” he told AFP.

An Oakland-based organizer with the group posted overnight on Twitter that the caravan would continue toward the border.

But organizers have since decided that this year’s caravan is unacceptably large, according to the WSJ.

“We cannot arrive to the border with 1,000 people. The group is too large, we never had seen this amount of people before,” said Mujica, noting that “previous caravans had about 300 people.”

For its part, Mexico was also caught off balance by the furor over the caravan. Mexican officials say they don’t allow illegal immigration and point out that Mexico has deported growing numbers of Central Americans over the past few years.

Mexican immigration officials are now 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.

Mexican officials privately say they hope the offer will entice enough of the migrants to apply for asylum here to make the crisis go away. Late Tuesday, Mexican foreign minister Luis Videgaray wrote on Twitter that the caravan had “disbanded.” As of early Wednesday, the caravan appeared largely intact.

The migrants have been camped out in the town since the weekend and they’re “deciding their next move,” according to the Daily Mail. Ultimately, they decided the caravan was too large to continue on safely.

“There are too many children — 450 in all. There are lots of babies. Hopping the train, as we did in the past, would have been crazy,” Mujica said.

The caravan now plans to travel to the central city of Puebla for a conference, then on to Mexico City for a series of demonstrations — and end its journey there.

While this caravan may no longer pose a threat at the border, many more are expected to come in the coming weeks.

Border Patrol Union President Brandon Judd told Fox Business host Stuart Varney that he agrees 100 percent with Trump’s decision to put National Guard troops on the border.

“This increases certainty of apprehension of both illegal aliens as well as illegal contraband like opioids,” Judd said.