Members of the migrant caravan that drew the ire of United States President Donald Trump earlier this month began arriving at Mexico’s northern border yesterday, despite warnings that any attempt to claim asylum in the U.S. would be futile.
News agency Reuters reported that dozens of Central Americans arrived at the border city of Tijuana late yesterday and two buses carrying around 130 migrant men, women and children had arrived by evening.
A further four buses were heading north from Hermosillo, Sonora, Reuters said last night.
Trump has ordered border security officials to repel the migrants, most of whom are fleeing violence or political persecution in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.
The caravan — organized by migrant advocacy group Pueblo Sin Fronteras (People Without Borders) — left Mexico’s southern border a month ago but stalled in Matías Romero, Oaxaca, after Trump unleashed a Twitter tirade against it.
Mexican authorities subsequently handed out temporary visas at the migrant’s makeshift camp in the town, legalizing their status in Mexico and allowing them to travel to the border.
Nevertheless, the caravan began to break up and the organizers said that it would end in Mexico City rather than at the Mexico-United States border as initially planned.
Some migrants chose to apply for asylum in Mexico instead while others returned to their home countries. Hundreds more opted to keep traveling to the border with the hope of receiving asylum in the United States.
But those hopes were dealt a blow Monday when U.S. authorities released statements saying they would drive the migrants back.
Trump wrote on Twitter that he had “instructed the Secretary of Homeland Security not to let these large caravans of people into our country.”
In a separate tweet, he also said that Mexico “must stop people going through Mexico and into the U.S.,” adding that “we may make this a condition of the new NAFTA agreement.”
Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray quickly rebuffed the tweet saying that “Mexico decides its migratory policy in a sovereign way.”
Trump’s decision to ask state governors to deploy the National Guard to the United States’ southern border was also apparently motivated by the caravan’s looming arrival.
Pueblo Sin Fronteras coordinator Rodrigo Abeja said that remaining members of the caravan who travel to the border would gather to discuss their options before making any decisions.
Health problems may be a further complication for the plans of some migrants.
The Sonora government yesterday informed authorities in Baja California that nine caravan members probably have tuberculosis.
State Health Secretary Enrique Claussen Iberri said that more than 200 migrants out of a total of over 600 who arrived in Sonora since April 21 had been treated for a range of medical problems.
They included dehydration, respiratory illnesses and high blood pressure while a pregnant woman was hospitalized because of fears that she could lose her baby.