US immigration

Migrant caravan travelling through Mexico abandons plan to travel to US border after infuriating Donald Trump

The Central American migrants were to stop at the US border after raising awareness of their plight; the Mexican government has offered to let them stay in Mexico

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 05 April, 2018, 1:50am
UPDATED : Thursday, 05 April, 2018, 2:51am

A caravan of Central American migrants whose trek across Mexico infuriated US President Donald Trump has decided not to travel to the US border, their leaders said on Wednesday.

“We will wrap up our work in Mexico City,” said Irineo Mujica, the head of the migrant advocacy group People Without Borders (Pueblo sin Fronteras).

“We have support teams at the border if there are people who need assistance there, but they would have to travel on their own,” he said in the town of Matias Romero, in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca.

The just over 1,000 migrants who currently make up the caravan – many travelling in families of up to 20 people – have been camped in the southern town since the weekend, deciding their next move in the face of daily attacks from Trump.

The Republican president vowed to send the US military to secure the border and threatened to scuttle the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) if Mexico did not stop the caravan.

Trump vows ‘strong action’ on immigration is coming soon

The caravan is in fact an annual event whose goal is more to raise awareness about the plight of migrants than to reach the United States – though some participants have travelled to the border in the past.

Mujica said this year’s caravan was so large it would have been dangerous to travel to the border by train-hopping.

“There are too many children – 450 in all. There are lots of babies. Hopping the train, as we did in the past, would have been crazy,” he said.

The caravan now plans to travel to the central city of Puebla for a conference, then on to Mexico City for a series of demonstrations – and end its journey there.

The group, mainly Hondurans, also includes Salvadorans, Guatemalans and Nicaraguans, mostly fleeing the brutal gang violence that has made Central America home to some of the highest murder rates in the world.

Organisers say Mexican immigration authorities are working with the migrants to get them papers to stay in Mexico.

Mujica praised the Mexican government for its response.

“Donald Trump wanted the world to crush us, to erase our existence. But Mexico responded admirably, and we thank the government for the way it handled this caravan,” he said.