A group of over 1,000 immigrants from Central America has stopped in Mexico, abandoning previous plans to enter the US.
Comprised mostly of Honduran refugees, the caravan was organized as part of an annual "awareness campaign" led by a group called People Without Borders. The organization has accompanied migrants to the US for over 15 years.
In the past, such caravans were directed to the US border in hopes of securing asylum for the individuals. On Tuesday, People Without Borders announced they will no longer continue their planned trek to the US with the current caravan.
The organization's leader, Irineo Mujica said, "We will wrap up our work in Mexico City," expressing concerns for the safety of the hundreds of kids who would be a part of the journey if it continued. Often, the group uses train-hopping as a method to reach America, which is not feasible with such a large number of young people.
Mujica continued: "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."
President Trump announced a proclamation on Wednesday to send National Guard troops to protect the US border in expectation of the caravan's arrival.
In 2014, President Obama faced a similar scenario, but that group of refugees ultimately did reach the US border in continuous waves reaching over 57,000; ultimately, the administration set up emergency shelters while determining how to handle the huge number of people arriving.
At the time, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson announced: "We have reiterated that our borders are not open to illegal immigration, if you come here illegally, and don't have a legal basis to stay under our laws, we will send you back."
People Without Borders spoke out in criticism of Mexico's asylum system, which is often the first country Central American asylum-seekers approach for safe harbor. One of the group's lead organizers, Rodrigo Abeja said "These are people that have been stranded in Tapachula, Mexico, awaiting refuge. Most of them have to wait for a year or more and the majority get rejected," calling Mexico's asylum system "demoralizing and exhausting."
But on Tuesday, Mujica applauded the response of the Mexican government who has offered to work with the group to provide the migrants with documentation to stay in the country, saying, "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."