Published: Tue, October 30, 2018
Global Media | By Garry Long

President Trump says military 'waiting' for migrants

President Trump says military 'waiting' for migrants

The U.S. military is sending 800 troops from Kentucky to the U.S. -Mexico border in preparation for a caravan of migrants approaching the border, according to the Pentagon.

The Department of Defense said the deployment of troops will "harden the border". That group appeared to begin as a collection of about 160 who made a decision to band together in Honduras for protection against the gangs who prey on migrants traveling alone and snowballed as the group moved north.

The group was much smaller than the first caravan.

The standoff on the riverbank follow a more violent confrontation that occurred on the nearby bridge over the river the night before, when migrants tossed rocks and used sticks against Mexico police.

The escalating rhetoric over the migrants and expected deployments come as the president has been trying to turn the caravans into a key election issue just days before elections that will determine whether Republicans maintain control of Congress.

A low-flying police helicopter hovered overhead as the migrants waded in large groups through the Suchiate River's murky waters, apparently trying to use the downdraft from its rotors to discourage them. Federal Police patrols drove slowly alongside encouraging them to stay on the shoulder. One migrant died from a head wound during the clash, but the cause was unclear.

Victor Argueta, 54, of Santa Barbara, Honduras, said he and his wife had spent two nights sleeping on the worldwide bridge between Tecun Uman, Guatemala, and Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico, before eventually crossing the river on a raft.

Others swam across after Mexican authorities refused to open a border bridge. About 600 migrants in the second group tried to cross a bridge from Guatemala to Mexico en masse Monday. The migrants had gasoline bombs made of soft-drink bottles, and improvised PVC tubes to launch fireworks or other projectiles.

Once on the Mexican side the migrants were surrounded and escorted by dark-uniformed officers as sirens wailed.

26-year-old Henry Diaz was reportedly struck in the head with a rubber bullet fired by a Mexican police officer and died at a hospital, although Mexican interior secretary Alfonso Navarrete Prida said officers were not armed.

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Mayor Ramiro Nolasco of the town of Zanatepec said locals had organized a bus and several trucks to carry migrants, mainly women and children.

While catching rides from passing trucks was a largely impromptu affair in the first week of the caravan, it has now become more organized.

"The Mexican government rejects the acts of violence on the border with Guatemala, and reiterates that the only way to enter Mexico is to obey immigration laws", he said.

The president offered no evidence of "gang members" and "very bad people" in the caravan. On Monday, more than 100 migrants lined up at a gas station parking lot to wait for rides.

Trump, eager to keep voters focused on illegal immigration in the lead-up to the elections, stepped up his dire warnings about the caravans, tweeting, "This is an invasion of our Country and our Military is waiting for you!" Earlier this year, only about 200 from a caravan of some 1,000 migrants reached the Tijuana-San Diego frontier.

In one segment, gray metallic panels representing the Mexico side of the USA border wall were stenciled with the phrase, "There are also dreams on this side".

Additionally, officials were monitoring another group of about 3,000 people that had gathered at a border crossing between Guatemala and Mexico.

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto launched a program Friday dubbed "You are home", which promises shelter, medical attention, schooling and jobs to Central Americans who agree to stay in the southern Mexico states of Chiapas or Oaxaca, far from the US border.

They will bring border personnel "exactly where they need to be, regardless of the conditions", O'Shaughnessy said. The ministry said pregnant women, children and the elderly were among those who had joined the program and were now being attended at shelters.

McAleenan described the situation along the US-Mexico frontier as a "border security and humanitarian crisis", and said border agents over the past 3 weeks had apprehended about 1,900 people per day illegally crossing.

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