While migrants marching through Mexico claim they are fleeing poverty and violence in Central America, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said Sunday that her agency will be on the lookout for gangs using the migrant caravans as a cover for criminal purposes.
“While we closely monitor the caravan crisis, we must remain mindful of the transnational criminal organizations and other criminals that prey on the vulnerabilities of those undertaking the irregular migration journey,” Nielsen said in a statement, according to The Hill.
“We shall work with our partners in the region to investigate and prosecute to the fullest extent of the law all who seek to encourage and profit from irregular migration,” she said. “We fully support the efforts of Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico as they seek to address this critical situation and ensure a safer and more secure region.”
Nielsen on Saturday had tweeted that DHS “will continue to support our Mexican partners as they take steps to confront the crisis on (the) southern border. The Mexican Federal police are handling this in a professional and humane manner.”
I have been in constant contact with my foreign counterparts in Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras. Closely monitoring developments and providing any requested assistance.
— Sec. Kirstjen Nielsen (@SecNielsen) October 20, 2018
“I have been in constant contact with my foreign counterparts in Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras. Closely monitoring developments and providing any requested assistance,” she also said.
Although Mexico’s federal police turned back Friday’s attempt by migrants to cross into Mexico from Guatemala, by Sunday, a mass of migrants estimated at between 2,000 and 5,000 was in Mexico.
“We don’t yet know if we will make it to the (U.S.) border, but we are going to keep going as far as we can,” said Rodrigo Abeja, one of the migrants’ leaders, according to Fox News.
— James Fredrick (@jameslfredrick) October 21, 2018
ABC reported Sunday that the Mexican military was not planning to let the migrants get much farther north.
In Mexico the migrant caravan is not welcome. If they are deported from the US, the will be stuck here in Mexico and that’s a problem for us too because they will steal to eat or they will become new soldiers of the drugs cartels.
— Isaac (@IsaacF11Nec) October 19, 2018
Mexico has said it will process migrants with valid asylum claims, but has not indicated how it will deal with the thousands of other migrants.
On Friday, President Donald Trump praised Mexico for its initial action to stop the migrants, but also noted that he had his own plan in mind.
“If that doesn’t work out, we’re calling up the military — not the (National) Guard,” Trump said, according to CBS. “They’re not coming into this country.”
The BBC, however, quoted one migrant with a prosthetic leg as saying he would never go back.
“I’m looking for a better future for my children. It’s been difficult but you have to fight for what you want,” said the man, whose name was not given by the BBC.
“I am asking President Trump to help us, people like me, who want to survive,” the man said.
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