Law enforcement and Border Patrol officials are bracing for a reportedly 20,000-strong migrant caravan crashing towards the southern border.
The Mexican government is calling the group the “Mother of all caravans,” BizPac Review reports.
“This unprecedented caravan said to possibly exceed 20,000 in number has started gathering today in El Salvador with people from not only El Salvador, but Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Venezuela, but other nations as well,” the report adds.
While the United States is the expected final destination of this migrant group, it will first have to pass through Mexico, something Mexico’s Interior Secretary Olga Sanchez Cordero said its government is taking actions to prevent.
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Sanchez met this week with U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security (DHS) Kirstjen Nielsen. The DHS indicated in a statement that the two “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.”
Mexico has issued tens of thousands of humanitarian visas that allow migrants to live and work in Mexico for up to 12 months. However, most members of the ongoing caravans choose to forego that offer and travel to the U.S. border to seek asylum.
Sanchez pointed out that the caravans have become big business for cartels and criminal groups, with charges collected for each individual amounting to thousands of dollars for caravan support services. Those services can include transport in trucks as well as food and water through the journey northward.
“Imagine the size, the dimension of this migration flow … which is sometimes human trafficking by organized crime. The business of this trafficking is several billion dollars,” said Sanchez. “Each migrant represents between $2,000 and $6,000 for them.”
President Trump took major action to prevent the invasion of a previous migrant caravan by deploying military troops to the southern border. While deployed, these troops constructed temporary barriers which further protected the border. The forces also served as a deterrent to those seeking to cross the border, on one occasion even firing tear gas and rubber bullets towards them.
Mexico has no plans to militarize their border, Sánchez said per the report.
“Instead, migration checkpoints manned by Federal Police and Civil Protection personnel will be set up on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec to halt illegals who have entered Mexico,” BizPac Review reports.
“We have to make a response because there cannot continue to be hundreds of thousands of migrants passing through Mexico and arriving at the northern border,” Sánchez added.
Yet Sanchez said that the U.S. is not the only nation suffering from the flows of people. She said that Mexico is struggling with so many migrants currently in the country, including an overwhelming number of asylum seekers in shelters in northern border cities. Those areas are experiencing very high violent crime rates.
Secretary Nielsen traveled to Tegucigalpa, Honduras, this week to meet with officials from that country as well as leaders from Guatemala and El Salvador. DHS said the countries have been working on “a first-of-its-kind memorandum of cooperation – or ‘regional compact’” – that “focuses on stemming the migration crisis at its source, including preventing the formation of new migrant caravans that set out to reach the United States.”