U.S. officials issued a warning to the “caravan” of Central American migrants and their smugglers on Monday to not attempt crossing the border illegally, or they’ll face prosecution.
The group waited Monday in the city of Hermosillo in northern Mexico where they would board a train or take buses for the final 432 miles to the Mexico-U.S. border in California, Reuters reported.
What are the details?
Over the last month, the caravan — which consists of mostly Honduran nationals — has dwindled from 1,500 to 600 after being abandoned by the organization, People Without Borders, that was leading them to the U.S.
President Donald Trump ordered law enforcement officials not to allow the migrants into the country.
“Let today’s message be clear: our nation has the most generous immigration system in the world, but this is a deliberate attempt to undermine our laws and overwhelm our system,” U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a release Monday. “There is no right to demand entry without justification. Smugglers and traffickers and those who lie or commit fraud will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
Often, migrants will train hop to cross the border illegally, but the group has a large number of women and children, which makes it more challenging.
Mexico offered asylum to many who are now hoping to seek refuge in the U.S.
“These individuals — and their smugglers — ignored the willingness of the Mexican government to allow them to stay in Mexico,” Sessions said.
What does Homeland Security say?
The Department of Homeland Security encouraged the migrants to accept asylum in Mexico and not attempt to enter the United States.
“DHS encourages persons with asylum or other similar claims to seek protections in the first safe country they enter, including Mexico,” DHS Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen wrote in a release Monday.
Officials have sent additional support to assist with enforcement at the San Diego border near Tijuana, Mexico.
“DHS, in partnership with DOJ, is taking a number of steps to ensure that all cases and claims are adjudicated promptly – including sending additional USCIS asylum officers, ICE attorneys, DOJ Immigration Judges, and DOJ prosecutors to the Southern border,” Nielsen said. “Again, if you enter the United States illegally, let me be clear: you have broken the law. And we will enforce the law through prosecution of illegal border crossers.”
It’s not clear how many of the remaining caravan will try to enter the country, but some told a witness for Reuters that they will remain in Mexico.
Many migrants escaped their home countries because of death threats from gangs and other violence. Homicide rates in Honduras and El Salvador are among the highest in the world.