A spokesperson for the large group of Central American migrants who are marching north towards the United States tells Univision that Donald Trump’s claims that the migrants plan to enter the U.S. illegally is false.
The group is seeking safety and trying to bring attention to vulnerable populations, said Gina Garibo, the project coordinator of Pueblo sin Fronteras (“People Without Borders”), a migrant advocacy and support organization.
“This is not a wave of people who are going to try to cross the border, to jump the border fence," Garibo told Univision.
President Trump tweeted furiously about immigration Monday morning, following up on references he made over the weekend to the “caravans” of people heading toward the U.S. border. Trump also appeared to praise Mexico’s immigration laws, and urged that country to stop the migrants.
It is unclear whether the tweets were simply a reaction to a Fox News television segment.
In an effort to bring visibility to the violence plaguing Central America, the so-called caravan left Chiapas, Mexico’s southernmost state, on March 25. The group will walk more than 2,500 miles towards Tijuana, which borders the United States.
Nearly 1,500 migrants are making the trek, a five-fold increase from marches in previous years. The majority of those marching, or some 80%, come from Honduras, which has witnessed some of the region’s worst drugs and gang-related violence.
The march is intended to signify the perilous journey that tens of thousands of people from all over Central America and Mexico have made fleeing violence and poverty in their home countries. Making the journey as part of a large group not only draws attention to their cause; it’s also safer.
Trump took to Twitter on Easter Sunday to blast the U.S. immigration system, blaming “ridiculous liberal (Democrat) laws like catch & release” for preventing Border Patrol agents from doing their jobs. He then declared there would be “no more DACA deal” and urged Republicans to bypass Democrats to pass tougher border measures.
With those tweets, the president was apparently reacting to a “Fox and Friends” segment on immigration that had aired minutes before, according to the New York Times.
Immigration experts point out the “caravan” has no bearing on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. DACA only applies to immigrants who entered the U.S. as minors more than 10 years ago.
According to Garibo, the caravan will pass through Puebla, Mexico, this week, where migrants will receive counseling from human rights organizations and define their next steps. Many of them plan to seek refuge in Mexico, she said, while others will continue the trek north.
"We will accompany them to the ports of entry on the northern border, where they will be handed over to the immigration authorities,” she said.