Trump Administration Accuses Migrant Caravan Members of 'Violence' as Group Swells to 7,000

The Trump administration warned Sunday that it was "closely following" the movements of a caravan of Central American asylum seekers headed to the United States as the group's numbers swelled to include as many as 7,000 people.

In a statement published online, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused migrants traveling with the caravan of "violating" the "sovereignty," "laws" and "procedures" of Guatemala and Mexico by "attempting to transit these countries" in their bid to make it to the U.S.-Mexico border.

Pompeo stressed that the U.S. would "not allow illegal immigrants to enter or remain" in the country, "as President [Donald] Trump has stated."

Aerial view of a Honduran migrant caravan heading to the U.S., on the Guatemala-Mexico international border bridge in Ciudad Hidalgo, Chiapas, Mexico, on October 20. The Trump administration has warned it would not allow any immigrants enter the country illegally. PEDRO PARDO/AFP/Getty

He also claimed that the Trump administration was "deeply concerned" by "violence provoked by some members" of the caravan, "as well as [by] the apparent political motivation of some organizers of the caravan."

Asylum seekers traveling with the caravan have had multiple confrontations with police in both Guatemala and Mexico.

On Friday, chaos broke out as thousands of asylum seekers were confronted by Mexican police in riot gear as they tried to force their way across a bridge leading to the North American country.

Members of the caravan tried to push through or climb over a steel gate as police threw tear gas and smoke canisters to force them back. Officials said that a few police officers were injured in the altercation.

A Honduran migrant heading in a caravan to the U.S. attempts to cross the border fence from Ciudad Tecun Uman, Guatemala, to Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico, on October 21. ORLANDO SIERRA/AFP/Getty


While Mexico's government has said it would allow anyone with an approved visa to enter the country, both Guatemalan and Mexican authorities have made efforts to deter the group of asylum seekers moving forward, amid growing pressure from the Trump administration to stop the caravan from making progress toward the U.S.

"We understand Mexico will detain and repatriate migrants who enter Mexico in violation of Mexican law, and in instances where migrants apply for asylum, process the requests in accordance with Mexican law," Pompeo said in his Sunday statement.

"We also understand that those who do not qualify will be returned in a safe and orderly process, consistent with Mexican law," he said, adding that the U.S. "stands ready to assist the Government of Mexico" in its efforts to "address refugee and migration issues in the region, including the influx of people arriving in Mexico."

Migrants traveling with the caravan have blasted Trump and his administration over their repeated attempts to pressure countries to stop the 7,000-strong caravan from making its way to the U.S.

Mexican Federal Police officers are deployed on the road linking Ciudad Hidalgo and Tapachula, Chiapas state, Mexico, as a caravan of Honduran migrants heading to the U.S. takes place, on October 21. JOHAN ORDONEZ/AFP/Getty

During a CNN report this weekend, one Central American man called Trump "the antichrist," adding that if the U.S. leader "doesn't repent, he's going to hell."

Another man traveling with the caravan told the broadcaster that he wanted Trump to know that migrants were "not criminals" after the president called the arrival of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border an "assault on our country...including the criminal elements and drugs pouring in."

Read more: Mexican Police Clash With U.S.-Bound Migrants After Trump Pressure

Not long after the caravan began its journey toward the U.S. more than a week ago, the president threatened to cut off funding and aid to Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala if the countries' leaders failed to take action to stop the caravan.

It remains to be seen whether the growing group will make it to the U.S. border.

Currently, Mexican authorities have said that anyone with a valid visa will be allowed to enter and move freely within the country.

They have also said that they are requesting assistance from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to process migrants seeking refugee status in the country.

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