Hundreds of Central American migrants who entered southern Mexico in recent days have either been pushed back into Guatemala by Mexican troops, shipped to detention centers or returned to Honduras, officials said Tuesday. An unknown number slipped past Mexican authorities and continued north.
The latest migrant caravan provided a public platform for Mexico to show the U.S. government and migrants thinking of making the trip that it has refined its strategy and produced its desired result: This caravan will not advance past its southern border.
What remained unclear was the treatment of the migrants who already find themselves on their way back to the countries they fled last week.
We appreciate Mexico doing more than they did last year to interdict caravans attempting to move illegally North to our Southern border: https://t.co/w63wrzIPsl
— Acting Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli (@HomelandKen) January 21, 2020
“Mexico doesn’t have the capacity to process so many people in such a simple way in a couple of days,” said Guadalupe Correa Cabrera, a professor at George Mason University studying how the caravans form.
The caravan of thousands had set out from Honduras in hopes Mexico would grant them passage, posing a fresh test of U.S. President Donald Trump’s effort to reduce the flow of migrants arriving at the U.S. border by pressuring other governments to stop them.
Mexican Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said 2,400 migrants entered Mexico legally over the weekend. About 1,000 of them requested Mexico’s help in returning to their countries. The rest were being held in immigration centers while they start legal processes that would allow them to seek refuge in Mexico or obtain temporary work permits that would confine them to southern Mexico.
On Tuesday afternoon, Jesus, a young father from Honduras who offered only his first name, rested in a shelter in Tecun Uman, Guatemala, with his wife and their baby, unsure of what to do next.
“No country’s policy sustains us,” he said in response to hearing Ebrard’s comments about the situation. “If we don’t work, we don’t eat. (He) doesn’t feed us, doesn’t care for our children.”
Honduran officials said more than 600 of its citizens were expected to arrive in that country Tuesday by plane and bus and more would follow in the coming days.
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