News & Politics

Trump Threatens to Close the Southern Border as 'Mother of All Caravans' Forms in Honduras

Central American migrants, part of the caravan hoping to reach the U.S. border, move on a road in Tapachula, Chiapas State, Mexico, Thursday, March 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Isabel Mateos)

President Trump on Friday threatened to close the Southern border next week, or at least large sections of it, unless Mexico halts the massive surge of illegal immigrants heading toward the United States.

“It could mean all trade with Mexico,” Trump said in response to reporters in Florida. “Mexico is making absolutely a fortune with the United States. They have a trade surplus of over a hundred million dollars — which is far bigger than anyone understands.”

Trump pointed out that Mexico has strong immigration laws, while the U.S. has “the weakest, the most pathetic laws.”

He added: “Congress has to act.”

The president buttressed his points with a series of tweets:

The president’s threat comes amid reports of a massive throng of migrants dubbed the “mother of all caravans” that is forming in Honduras, according to Mexico News Daily.

“We are aware that a new caravan is forming in Honduras that they’re calling the mother of all caravans… and which could be [made up of] more than 20,000 people,” Olga Sánchez Cordero, Mexico’s federal interior secretary said earlier this week.

“Mexico, which makes so much money from the United State… has to stop it,” Trump told reporters.

“We have right now two big caravans coming up from Guatemala — massive caravans — walking right through Mexico. Mexico’s tough. They can stop them but they chose not to. Now they’re going to stop them — and if they don’t stop them, we’re closing the border,” he said.

“We will close it for a long time. I am not playing games.”

Sánchez told reporters on Wednesday that “migration and specifically the formation of the huge caravan was a central issue in talks she held yesterday with United States Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen in Miami, Florida.”

According to Sánchez, Nielsen told her that the United States has “returned at least 76,000 migrants to their countries of origin in February and expect to deport more than 90,000 this month and a total of 900,000 by the end of the year.”

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said in a statement that Nielsen and Sánchez “discussed ways the U.S. and Mexico can work together to address irregular migration and the record levels of illegal entries at the U.S. southern border.”

Thousands of migrants fleeing poverty and violence in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador have entered Mexico at the southern border since late last year as part of several large caravans.

Despite the federal government issuing more than 10,000 humanitarian visas that allow migrants to live and work in Mexico for up to 12 months, most caravan members have chosen to travel to the United States border to seek asylum.

A caravan consisting of around 2,500 Central Americans and Cubans is currently traveling through Southern Mexico, the report continues.

Sanchez told reporters that criminal groups are transporting migrants from the Southern Mexico border town of Tapachula to the U.S. border in trucks, charging thousands of dollars per person for the service.

A senior Homeland Security official explained to reporters Friday that the U.S. “might close designated ports of entry to re-deploy staff to help process parents and children,” ABC13 Houston reported.

Ports of entry are official crossing points that are used by residents and commercial vehicles. The official, who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity, did not specify which ports the administration was considering closing, but said only that closures were “on the table.”

According to ABC13  “border agents are on track to make 100,000 arrests and denials of entry” on the Southern border this month.