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What Is the Caravan of Immigrants Heading to the U.S.-Mexico Border and Why Is Trump So Angry About It?

A large caravan of Central American migrants is snaking its way through Mexico and heading toward the U.S. border, and President Donald Trump is not happy about it. He tweeted his feelings on the topic Sunday morning.

“Mexico has the absolute power not to let these large 'Caravans' of people enter their country,” he wrote. “They must stop them at their Northern Border, which they can do because their border laws work, not allow them to pass through into our country, which has no effective border laws.”

The president was referring to a group of nearly 1,200 Central American migrants currently marching through Mexico toward the southern border of the United States as part of an annual Holy Week event. The caravan is part humanitarian effort, part publicity stunt, and is led by an organization called Pueblo Sin Fronteras, or People Without Borders. The collective provides physical and monetary assistance to migrants and refugees seeking asylum.

The caravan contingent works to keep gangs who seek to exploit vulnerable migrants at bay, and also to overwhelm any border security of police seeking action. For the most part, Buzzfeed reported, Mexican immigration officers have been unbothered by the marchers and have not sought action.

A great percentage of the caravan is made of Hondurans seeking to escape systemic poverty and political unrest. Honduras has one of the world’s highest murder rates and has experienced months of protests and violence since the December election of President Orlando Hernández.

Most of the marchers have plans to cross Mexico's northern border seek asylum in the United States. Organizers of the caravan told Buzzfeed that about two-thirds of their group planned to sneak into the United States or ask for political asylum. Either way, the marchers will likely present a challenge to the president and his strict anti-immigration views.

President Trump, angered by Mexico's inaction, threatened to end the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA. “Mexico is doing very little, if not NOTHING, at stopping people from flowing into Mexico through their Southern Border, and then into the U.S. They laugh at our dumb immigration laws,” he wrote Sunday. “They must stop the big drug and people flows, or I will stop their cash cow, NAFTA. NEED WALL!”

The president also lashed out against Democrats in Congress, saying their support of a “catch-and-release” border system, which allows illegal immigrants who cross the U.S. border to go free before their court date, encourages these caravan marches. He also said he would end any negotiations on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, known as DACA.

“Border Patrol Agents are not allowed to properly do their job at the Border because of ridiculous liberal (Democrat) laws like Catch & Release. Getting more dangerous,” he said “‘Caravans’ coming. Republicans must go to Nuclear Option to pass tough laws NOW. NO MORE DACA DEAL!”

Irineo Mujica, director of Pueblos Sin Fronteras, told Buzzfeed that President Trump was partially responsible for the caravan because of his support for Hernández. “If this caravan bothers him, then it also bothers me that he supported people like Juan Orlando [Hernández] who oppresses the people, destroys the economy of the country, and creates a humanitarian crisis," he said. President Barack Obama also backed Hernández.

Mexico’s secretary of foreign affairs, Luis Videgaray Caso, also responded to Trump on Twitter Sunday. “Every day Mexico and the US work together on migration throughout the region. Facts clearly reflect this,” he wrote. “An inaccurate news report should not serve to question this strong cooperation. Upholding human dignity and rights is not at odds with the rule of law. Happy Easter.”

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