In the face of U.S. criticism, Mexico is challenging President Trump by telling a caravan of migrants transiting the nation to head to the U.S. border.
Mexico’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Interior Department have endorsed the controversial caravan of mostly Honduran migrants and rejected Trump’s demand to stop it.
In a “joint statement,” the Mexican government said it has no responsibility to try and enforce U.S. immigration policy and said it is advising the group of 1,000-1,500 migrants to head to official U.S.-Mexico border crossings.
“The Government of Mexico recalls that, in accordance with Article 47 of the Migration Law, all those nationals or foreigners who decide to leave the Mexican national territory must do so exclusively through the points designated for the international transit of persons and are obliged to comply with the requirements for entry, stipulated by the country to which they intend to enter,” said the joint statement.
It added that “it is not the responsibility of this government to exercise immigration decisions of the United States or any other nation. So it will be the competent authorities of the American Union that decide, if appropriate, to authorize or not the entry into its territory of the caravan members that request it through the authorized entry and exit ports.”
The endorsement and encouragement given to the caravan from the ministries appears to clash with another department, Mexico’s National Institute of Immigration, which said it planned to disband the caravan.
The Interior and Foreign Affairs ministries said that caravans of migrants from nations to its south have been allowed to traverse the country and head to the U.S. since 2010. It is sponsored by the group Pueblo Sin Fronteras.
They said that they consider the caravan different than illegal migration because it is meant to draw attention to immigration issues in the Americas.
“In this context, the government of the Republic considers that the caravan known as ‘Viacrucis del Migrante’ is a public demonstration that seeks to draw attention to the migratory phenomenon and the importance of respect for the rights of Central American migrants, which in many cases, are forced to leave their places of origin in search of better opportunities or with the intention of obtaining international protection through the form of ‘refuge,” said the joint statement.
Still, Mexico said it has deported 400 of those on the caravan and is considering granting refugee status to others.
The caravan has been welcomed throughout southern Mexico and leaders have pledged to move on to the United States, where many will seek refugee status and work, even if Mexico tries to disband it.