The United States and Mexico are about to reach a crisis point over illegal migration, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday as a caravan of Honduran migrants broke through the Guatemalan border on their way to Mexico and the US.
‘We are quickly reaching a point which appears to be a moment of crisis,’ Pompeo said at a joint press conference with his Mexican counterpart Luis Videgaray in Mexico City.
He said ‘record numbers of migrants’ were heading for the US and stressed ‘the importance of stopping this flow before it reaches the US border.’ Mexico must make a ‘sovereign decision’ on how to handle the situation, Pompeo said, adding that the US also needed to ‘fix’ its relevant legislation in order to ‘handle this properly.’ Videgaray said that the US and Mexico were ‘neighbours and ... sovereign countries.’ ‘Mexico defines Mexico's migration policy,’ he added.
The minister stressed the need to deal with the fundamental reasons why Central Americans were migrating and said Mexico would apply its migration legislation ‘always in a humanitarian way.’ The caravan, which left northern Honduras six days ago, is estimated to number 3,000 people.
Some of them tore down a security wall and managed to enter the bridge over the river separating the Guatemalan border town of Tecun Uman from Ciudad Hidalgo in Mexico on Friday.
Mexico's ambassador to Guatemala, Luis Manuel Lopez, said women and children would first be allowed to cross into Mexico.
The migrants are heading for the US, though some want to stay in Mexico.
US President Donald Trump on Thursday threatened to send troops to the border to stop what he called an ‘onslaught’ of migrants.
Mexico responded by saying it rejected the US pressure and would not change its migration legislation.
But Videgaray told Radio Formula on Friday that migrants who tried to enter the country illegally would be deported. Mexico has posted hundreds of extra police on the border.
The migrants have the option of seeking refugee status in Mexico, but solving such cases is expected to take months.
The coordinator of the caravan, former Honduran lawmaker Bartolo Fuentes, was meanwhile expelled to Honduras after having been arrested in Guatemala, Honduran migration authorities said.
Guatemalan police said he had entered the country illegally. But Honduras' former president Manuel Zelaya, who was among those welcoming Fuentes at the airport, said he was being persecuted for trying to help the migrants.
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