The caravan consisting primarily of Central American migrants seeking to reach the United States has swelled to an estimated 7,000.
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump has pledged to close down the U.S.-Mexican border and is requiring any who plan to seek asylum in the United States to apply in Mexico first.
Fox News reported Monday that the caravan — which numbered about 1,600 at the beginning of its trek from northen Honduras — had grown to anywhere between 5,000 to 10,000 people. An NBC report put the number at 7,000
I’m only just realizing the massive scale of this caravan as they march north into Mexico. It’s several thousand people. Just look. pic.twitter.com/aRuoLNYTZg
— Kate Linthicum (@katelinthicum) October 21, 2018
The Mexican government had agreed last week to stop the caravan at its southern border with Guatemala, but was overwhelmed by the sheer numbers.
Fox News reported on Monday that Mexican law enforcement felt it could not respond to the caravan with normal crowd disbursement techniques, such as firing tear gas, given the number of young children among the ranks.
According to Fox, about 80 percent of the marchers are men, aged 35 and under, many of whom plan to cross the U.S. border illegally if unable to gain access otherwise.
— Fox News (@FoxNews) October 22, 2018
Trump has posted a series of tweets about the caravan over the weekend and on Monday.
“Sadly, it looks like Mexico’s Police and Military are unable to stop the Caravan heading to the Southern Border of the United States,” Trump wrote in one. “Criminals and unknown Middle Easterners are mixed in. I have alerted Border Patrol and Military that this is a National Emergency. Must change laws!”
In other tweets, he blamed Democrats for not being willing to change the country’s immigration laws. He also announced the U.S. will begin to cut off or substantially reduce U.S. aid to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador were not able to do the job of stopping people from leaving their country and coming illegally to the U.S. We will now begin cutting off, or substantially reducing, the massive foreign aid routinely given to them.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 22, 2018
Mexican Ambassador to the U.S. Geronimo Gutierrez told Fox News on Thursday his country “has evidence” the caravan is politically motivated.
“They are very well organized,” he told host Brett Baier on “Special Report.”
Trump shared that assessment with a campaign rally crowd in Montana last week.
“A lot of money has been passing to people to come up and try and get to the border by Election Day,” he said.
“The crazy Democrats refuse to support any form of border security legislation … They also figure everybody coming in is going to vote Democrat.
“Come Election Day, Americans will remember Kavanaugh, the caravan, law and order and common sense,” Trump added. “The choice could not be more clear: Democrats produce mobs, Republicans produce jobs.”
According to the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. permitted over 1.1 million people to immigrate to the country legally in 2017, which was down slightly from former President Barack Obama’s final year in office, when the number was closer to 1.2 million.
Of that total, approximately 53,000 were from Central America and 168,000 were from Mexico.
The Pew Research Center reported that the U.S. allows more people to immigrate than any other country in the world — by a wide margin.
The Center found, as of 2015, about 1 in 7 Americans (14 percent) were born in other countries, which is near an historic record set in the late 1800s when the percentage reached 14.8 percent.
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