(UPI) — A group of thousands of Central American migrants making a high-profile trip to the United States are about 1,000 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border, amid increasing warnings from government officials.
The caravan moved into the state of Chiapas, Mexico, Monday and reached Central Park Miguel Hidalgo in Tapachula. The group’s organizers from Pueblo Sin Fronteras said they intend to reach Huixtla, about 20 miles north.
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The first wave of migrants, now totaling about 7,200 overall, reached Huixtla Monday night, which put them about 1,100 miles from the nearest U.S-Mexico border entry in McAllen, Texas.
U.S. President Donald Trump has been warning Mexico to keep the migrants from reaching the United States border. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Mexico City last week to talk with officials there about the issue.
Mexican officials, along with the United Nations, directed 640 migrants to its National Institute of Migration to seek asylum, while 500 received help returning to Honduras and Guatemala.
The Mexican government said 900 others will be deported after they unlawfully entered Mexico.
Pueblo Sin Fronteras, a human rights group that provides aid and legal assistance to migrants, organized the caravan, its second since April.
Trump on Monday said “unknown Middle Easterners” have joined the caravan as a way to gain access to the United States.
“Sadly, it looks like Mexico’s Police and Military are unable to stop the Caravan heading to the Southern Border of the United States,” he tweeted. “Criminals and unknown Middle Easterners are mixed in. I have alerted Border Patrol and Military that this is a National [emergency]. Must change laws!”
Trump was criticized for offering no proof that Middle East migrants have joined the caravan.
“Unfortunately, they have a lot of everybody in that group,” he told reporters.
The president, who’s taken a stern immigration stance since taking office, again blamed Democrats for the caravan and threatened to cut off financial aid to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, the nations from which most of the migrants originate.
“Every time you see a Caravan, or people illegally coming, or attempting to come, into our Country illegally, think of and blame the Democrats for not giving us the votes to change our pathetic Immigration Laws!” he tweeted Monday morning. “Remember the Midterms! So unfair to those who come in legally.”
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