2020 Caravan Arrives in Mexico With More Than 1,000 Migrants, Government Vows to Deport Most

A caravan of more than 1,000 migrants and asylum seekers, predominantly from Honduras, arrived in Mexico over the weekend, with thousands more people following miles behind.

On Sunday, Mexico's interior ministry released a statement saying that Mexican authorities had identified nearly 1,100 migrants and asylum seekers traveling with the group, dubbed the "2020 caravan."

Video published online on Saturday appeared to show migrants and asylum seekers clashing with Mexican troops as they tried to push through a gate at a bridge crossing between Tecun Uman, Guatemala and Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico.

Hundreds of migrants and asylum seekers were stopped in the southern states of Chiapas and Tabasco, with the Mexican government working to allow some to stay in the country, while returning others home.

The interior ministry said it had offered migrants the opportunity to stay and work in the south, adding that those who refused the offer would not be given permission to travel through Mexico to the U.S. border.

"In the majority of cases, once the particular migration situation has been reviewed, assisted returns will be carried out to their countries of origin, assuming that their situation warrants it," the ministry said in a statement translated from Spanish.

As the Mexican government seeks to deter migrants and asylum seekers already in the country from reaching the U.S. border, thousands more Central Americans have been making their way to the country's border.

According to Reuters, Guatemalan officials have seen at least 4,000 people from Honduras enter the country since Wednesday.

The surge in migration comes following a series of agreements signed between the U.S. and Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, seeking to enhance cooperation on deterring irregular migration, mainly to the U.S.

In a statement published on Twitter, Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad Wolf said "the caravan will face a series of hurdles as they attempt to illegally enter the U.S., including enforcement by Guatemala and Mexico and new policies that restore integrity to the U.S. immigration system."

Asylum seekers
Migrants and asylum seekers hoping to reach the United States enter Mexico in Ciudad Hidalgo, Chiapas State, on January 18, 2020. Many are expected to be returned to their home countries. ISAAC GUZMAN/AFP/Getty

The below Statista chart shows how the number of migrants coming to the U.S. from Mexico has declined since 2000, while the number of people coming from other countries has surged.

Statista

While Wolf's statement appeared to suggest, without evidence, that all migrants and asylum seekers traveling with the caravan groups would try to enter the U.S. "illegally," migrants and asylum seekers do have the right to present themselves at designated ports of entry along the U.S. border.

He is correct, however, that under the U.S.' new agreements with Central American countries and Mexico, it is likely that asylum seekers and migrants would face hurdles in attempting to reach the U.S. border in the first place.

With Mexican officials denying asylum seekers and immigrants permission to transit through the country in order to reach the border, it will be difficult for caravan members to make it to Mexico's northern border towns.

Meanwhile, those who do safely make it to the border face either be forced to remain in Mexico while their claims are processed, or potentially being sent back to Guatemala under the U.S.'s "safe third country" agreement with the nation.

Under that agreement, the U.S. can send asylum seekers who transited through Guatemala to get to the U.S. back to the Central American country under the premise that it is a safe place for asylum seekers to make their claims.

The U.S. has signed similar agreements with Honduras and El Salvador, but has yet to start returning people to those countries.

2020 Caravan Arrives in Mexico With More Than 1,000 Migrants, Government Vows to Deport Most | World