President Donald Trump is threatening to send the military to close the southern U.S. border unless Mexico stops what he calls an “onslaught” of Central American migrants who are now poised to enter Mexico from its border with Guatemala.
A caravan of nearly 3,000 people left San Pedro Sula in Honduras late last week, making their way through Guatemala’s muddy jungle and residential streets to reach Mexico and eventually the United States.
Trump claims there are criminals among the migrants and is urging Mexico, “in the strongest terms” to stop them.
“The assault on our country at our Southern Border, including Criminal elements and DRUGS pouring in, is far more important to me as President than Trade or the USMCA (US Mexico Canada Agreement),” Trump tweeted Thursday.
“He’s making a political calculation,” said Marcelo Ebrard, Mexico’s incoming foreign minister, about Trump’s posting on Twitter, in a reference to U.S. midterm elections in November. Ebrard said in a local radio interview Trump’s comments were “predictable.”
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in Mexico City for a meeting Friday with outgoing President Enrique Pena Nieto.
Mexico sent hundreds of extra policemen to its border with Guatemala Thursday.
While Trump has threatened to deploy the military to the Mexico-U.S. border, Lieutenant Colonel Jamie Davis said Thursday in a statement the “Department of Defense has not been tasked to provide additional support.”
Mexican officials say they will not let the migrants enter as one large group. Individuals must show a passport or visa to cross the border, or express an interest in staying in Mexico and apply for refugee status.
“We will offer jobs, work to Central Americans. Anyone who wants to work in our country will have help, will have a work visa,” Mexican President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said this week.
Honduras is one of the most violent and deadliest nations on Earth, in part, because of gangs and drugs.
Many of those trying to get to the United States want to escape the daily threat to their lives, the lack of jobs, and want to get their children away from the influence of gangs.
One of the migrants told the Associated Press that he is concerned but not deterred by Trump’s threats to keep them out.
“You have to keep fighting,” he said while another young man said “Only God on high can stop us.”