by WorldTribune Staff, April 25, 2019
A migrant caravan, which started with 90 people from El Salvador the last week of March, has swelled to some 10,000 people hoping to reach the U.S. southern border.
Mexico’s Interior Secretary Olga Sanchez Cordero dubbed it “caravana madre” – the “mother of all caravans.”
Reports from media tracking the caravan said that, in addition to Central Americans, it is made up of migrants from Cuba, Haiti, and Africa.
Local media said the caravan is expected to arrive in Mexico City this week.
Mexican officials said they have deported thousands of people this month, but at least 10,000 have made it past Mexican federal officers and intend on traveling to the U.S.-Mexico border.
Earlier this year, the Trump administration announced all asylum-seekers who apply at a port of entry must remain in Mexico while their cases are decided. That process can take two to five years.
President Donald Trump said the U.S. would deploy armed soldiers to the southern border after Mexican soldiers recently “pulled guns” on U.S. troops.
Trump appeared to be referring to an April 13 incident in which Mexican troops reportedly questioned and pointed their weapons at two U.S. troops conducting surveillance on the border, AFP reported.
Trump tweeted: “Mexico’s Soldiers recently pulled guns on our National Guard Soldiers, probably as a diversionary tactic for drug smugglers on the Border. Better not happen again!”
“We are now sending ARMED SOLDIERS to the Border. Mexico is not doing nearly enough in apprehending & returning!”
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said his government would take into account Trump’s comments and act “in keeping with law within the framework of our sovereignty.”
“The most important thing is to tell (Trump) we are not going to fight with the government of the United States,” Obrador said. “The most important thing is to say we want a relationship of mutual respect and cooperation for the sake of development.”
A Pentagon official told AFP some of the 2,900 active duty and 2,000 National Guard troops deployed at the border have always been armed “for force protection only.”
“We are always reviewing our policies,” the official added, speaking on condition of anonymity.
U.S. Northern Command said the two U.S. soldiers involved in the April 13 incident were in an unmarked vehicle conducting “border support operations” on the American side of the border when they were approached by five to six Mexican military personnel.
An inquiry “revealed that the Mexican military members believed that the U.S. Army soldiers were south of the border. However, the U.S. soldiers were appropriately in U.S. territory,” Northern Command said.
Meanwhile, acting secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan said on April 23 that construction of the border wall has been going at an aggressive pace.
“So normally for a federal project of this scope, from the time you get funded to starting, it’s over two years,” McAleenan said Fox News. “We’ve already built the [fiscal year] 2017 funding in less than two years. That shows how aggressively we’re moving out on this.”
McAleenan also said more military troops are needed to help alleviate the crisis at the southern border.
“They helped us repel two attempts by a caravan to enter the United States by helping us fortify ports of entry,” he said. “They’re going to be helping us build the wall, too.”