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Trump Threatens To End NAFTA, Foreign Aid Unless “Immigrant Caravan” Is Stopped

Courtesy of Zero Hedge

For the third time in less than a week, Trump has sounded the alarm about the "huge caravan" of Latin American immigrants traveling through Mexico unobstructed by local authorities, and seeking asylum at the US border. 


The NY TImes reports that the caravans have become regular occurences as "scores or even hundreds of Central American migrants" travel north from southern Mexico, "fleeing violence and poverty in their homelands." 

See, Trump Transforms Immigrant Caravans in Mexico Into Cause Célèbre (NY Times):

They travel in large groups — the current is one of the largest at about 1,200 participants — in part for protection against the kidnappers, muggers and rapists that stalk the migrant trail, but also to draw more attention to their plight. Some have the United States in mind, but many are only thinking as far as a new home in Mexico.
Called “caravans,” most of the journeys, which date back at least five years, have moved forward with little fanfare, virtually unnoticed north of the border with the United States. But tweets by President Trump have suddenly turned the latest caravan into a major international incident and the most recent flash point in the politics of immigration in the United States.
Alex Mensing, project coordinator for Pueblo Sin Fronteras, said that the Mexican authorities had agreed to provide eligible migrants with humanitarian visas permitting them to remain in the country legally. Others would be provided with temporary transit passes, which usually last 20 days, allowing them to visit an immigration office and begin the process to legalize their status or travel to the United States border to apply for asylum or some other form of protection, Mr. Mensing said.
Mexico’s Foreign Ministry and Interior Ministry, in a statement issued jointly late Monday, said the authorities had already deported 400 participants in the caravan since the event began more than a week ago, but confirmed that they were offering protections to the migrants “in cases where this is appropriate.”
[The immigrants are not marching though unobstructed.]
But organizers said that contrary to the vision of a migrant onslaught on America conjured by Mr. Trump, most participants do not intend to travel as far as the border of the United States.
“He’s trying to paint this as if we are trying to go to the border, and we’re going to storm the border,” Mr. Mujica said…

On Monday, Mr. Mujica noted that only 10 to 15 percent of the participants, at most, would likely seek asylum at the American border. 

In response to Trump, Luis Videgaray, Mexico’s secretary of foreign affairs, said on Twitter: 
Back to Zero Hedge:
Previously, Trump used the caravan as an example of why his border wall needs to be built and also as an excuse to attack Democrats for their part in watering down border-security measures included in the $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill. He's also attacked the Mexican government for ignoring the situation, ominously threatening to remember their negligence as NAFTA negotiations continue.

Today, he took his threats one step further by not only threatening to kill NAFTA – Mexico's "cash cow" – but also to cut off foreign aid to "Honduras and the countries that allow this to happen" before closing with: "Congress must act now!"

The big Caravan of People from Honduras, now coming across Mexico and heading to our “Weak Laws” Border, had better be stopped before it gets there. Cash cow NAFTA is in play, as is foreign aid to Honduras and the countries that allow this to happen. Congress MUST ACT NOW!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 3, 2018

The migrants, mostly Guatemalans and Hondurans, are hoping to escape brutality and violence that proliferates in both countries: "The crime rate is horrible, you can't live there," a migrant named "Karen" told BuzzFeed News on the side of a highway near the Southern Mexico town of Huixtla. "After the president [was sworn in] it got worse. There were deaths, mobs, robbed homes, adults and kids were beaten up."

About 80% of them are from Honduras. Many said they are fleeing poverty, but also political unrest and violence that followed the swearing in of Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández after a highly contested election last year. The group often breaks into chants of “out with JOH.” They also chant “we aren't immigrants, we're international workers” and “the people united will never be defeated.”

Still, there are no guarantees on the route or assurances that once they reach the US border they'll be able to cross undetected or be allowed to stay under some type of protection like asylum.

Alex Mensing, another organizer with Pueblos Sin Fronteras, made that point clear to the migrants before the group started out. He also stressed that everyone is responsible for their own food, water, and payment for vans or buses. Still, it's far cheaper than being assaulted or falling into the hands of unscrupulous smugglers. -BuzzFeed

As we reported, migrants gathered for the march in the southern Mexico border town of Tapachula in advance of the march – where Pueblo Sin Fronteras conducted introductory workshops to help the Central Americans best navigate the United States once they arrive. As the migrants move closer to the US-Mexico border, the Washington Examiner reported that a third Mexican town welcomed the caravan, which is about 400 miles into its journey, and fast approaching the southern US border.

Meanwhile, every day the caravan marches in a northern direction, is a day in which Trump will tweet about it.

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