Trump puts migrant caravan at centre of midterm elections

Honduran police officers stand as an Honduran migrant looks on while hoping to cross into Guatemala and join a caravan trying to reach the US

Honduran police officers stand as an Honduran migrant looks on while hoping to cross into Guatemala and join a caravan trying to reach the US

As some 3,000 Hondurans made their way through Guatemala, attention turned to Mexico, after U.S. President Donald Trump threatened Thursday to close the U.S. -Mexico border if authorities there fail to stop them - a almost unthinkable move that would disrupt hundreds of thousands of legal freight, vehicle and pedestrian crossings each day.

Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez is due to meet his Guatemalan counterpart Jimmy Morales in Guatemala City on Saturday for talks on a strategy to return the Honduran migrants.

The president has repeatedly claimed that the migrants, and immigrants more broadly, lead to increased crime rates and allow illegal substances to pass over the border, although statistics suggest they do not. "They're not coming into this country".

President Donald Trump has made immigration a central focus of his agenda since the beginning with his border wall being a major component of that.

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has partnered with the United States in the past on immigration-related issues.

The migrants, whose numbers include children and elderly people, say they are simply trying to escape violence and poverty.

Migrants who want to apply for refuge in Mexico were welcome to do so, they said, but any who decide to cross illegally and are caught will be detained and deported.

Mexican officials had said people seeking asylum would be processed at the border.

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 USA border.

"Whoever wants to work in our country is going to have support, is going to have a work visa", he said.

The caravan formed Saturday in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.

"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.

Throughout the week, Trump has railed against the caravan on Twitter, threatening Honduras and other Central American nations with the suspension of foreign aid unless they stop the northward march.

He said Mexico was concerned with "the respect to human rights, the dignity of people, as well as the protection of this migrant group, particularly those that are most vulnerable", children, the elderly and pregnant women. Residents of Mexican and Guatemalan border cities brought water and food to the Hondurans after yesterday's police attack.

"They are fully engaged, they sent 500 federales down to the southern border", Pompeo said, noting that he wanted to "express his sympathy" for the injured officers.

This past spring, when another caravan of Central American migrants crossed intoMexico, such policies allowed the group to make it to the us border. During a presidential debate, Lopez Obrador indicated his administration would stop doing "dirty work" for the United States by detaining Central American migrants.

Before the arrival of the latest group, authorities said that collectively more than 1400 migrants had been left by smugglers in the broiling desert - or in one case in a drenching thunderstorm - in remote areas by Arizona's border with Mexico since August 20. "These are tough, tough people and I don't want them in our country".

"Ironically, the way President Trump responds to these caravans makes it harder for the Mexican government to cooperate with the USA on immigration enforcement", Selee said.

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