Immigration

Mexico promises humanitarian response to caravan, but migrants break barriers anyway.

Migrants break through fence at border, wait to cross bridge into Mexico

A 3,000-strong US-bound migrant caravan broke border fences and pushed through migration check-points by the Guatemala-Mexico border on Friday.
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A 3,000-strong US-bound migrant caravan broke border fences and pushed through migration check-points by the Guatemala-Mexico border on Friday.

The Mexican government assured the Trump administration it would secure its borders while prioritizing the human rights and protections for children and pregnant members of a migrant caravan heading north. But the message didn’t appear to resonate with members of the caravan Thursday who “violently” tore down fenced barriers and injured Mexican police in order to make a path for thousands to pour into Mexico.

“Of course, in Mexico we have the rule of law, and we shall apply – enforce the law, but there will also be a humanitarian way that we will think about the migrant in the first place,” Mexican Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray told reporters during a visit with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Pompeo traveled to Mexico City Friday to meet with Mexican officials to find ways to help stop a caravan of thousands of migrants heading to the United States.

The Mexican government has been in ongoing communication with members of the caravan and explained that those requesting refugee status would receive assistance according to Mexican and international law. Caravan organizers were asked to respect Mexican assurances that they would meet with groups of 50 people to ascertain proper traveling papers and asylum requests. But about 3,000 migrants broke down fences so they could improperly enter the country without permission.

“Today, violent tides are trying to enter Mexico and they have hurt Mexican police. We did not use armed forces because we offered the obligation to help, “ Mexican Interior Secretary, Alfonso Navarrete Prida told Mexican Milenio television.

The Mexican government has tried to not to make matters worse with President Donald Trump who has unloaded a heavy stream of vitriol against Mexican leaders threatening military action and an end to a recently inked trade agreement Thursday over Twitter and during a campaign rally if Mexico didn’t put a stop to the caravan.

It’s unclear how serious Trump is about sealing the border or if this is more of a political move to drum up his base before the midterm elections in less than three weeks. But the Mexican government has taken notice, assuring the Trump administration that it would not just allow migrants to simply pass through their borders on their way to the United States.

“That is why we have talked with Secretary Pompeo, that yesterday Mexico has invited the United Nations” to help rule on individual requests for asylum, Videgaray said.

Pompeo, who also met with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, said the situation is quickly reaching a point of crisis and the caravan must be stopped before it reaches the U.S. border. But he was also sympathetic to the challenges noting that four Mexican policemen were injured during what he described as an organized effort to “violate the sovereignty of Mexico.”

“That’s evidence of what this really is,” Pompeo said. “This is a group, a large group of people; they are putting women and children in front of the caravan to use as shields as they make their way through.”

Franco Ordoñez: 202-383-6155, @francoordonez
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