Mexican authorities have broken up a second attempted migrant caravan near the country’s southern border, as Mexico — under pressure from U.S. authorities to halt the northward flow — offered temporary residency to Central Americans who would agree to remain in the country.
The second caravan, numbering 200 to 300, was much smaller than the major U.S.-bound caravan and was stopped shortly after setting off on a highway just north of the Mexico-Guatemala border on Friday. More than 100 people were arrested and face deportation, a police official said.
In a recorded national address, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said Central Americans who applied for refugee status and vowed to remain in the southern states of Chiapas and Oaxaca would be offered provisional residency permits, work papers and access to healthcare and schools.
“Mexico wants to protect and help you,” Peña Nieto said, addressing the migrants and outlining the new plan, named Estas en Tu Casa, or, Make Yourself at Home.
The proposal seemed designed at least in part to demonstrate to Washington that Mexico City was doing something to halt the northbound caravan, which President Trump has labeled a “national emergency” and repeatedly used as a campaign issue ahead of congressional elections Nov. 6. Trump has announced plans to deploy troops along the southwestern border to thwart the group’s advance.
Mexican authorities have eschewed police action against the caravan, which began marching north from southern Mexico last weekend. Most caravan members are Honduran nationals who entered Mexico illegally via Guatemala.
Mexico, the largest source of immigrants in the United States, faces a dilemma between its pronounced commitment to human rights and pressure from Washington to stop the caravan.
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SOURCE: LA Times, Patrick J. McDonnell