03 April, 2018
The Mexican government says it is offering refugee status to some members of a group of migrants from Central America marching north through the country.
The activist organization People Without Borders (Pueblo Sin Fronteras) helped form the caravan of people. It has done so each year for the last 10 years to help bring attention to the rights of migrants, especially those fleeing dangerous situations.
The Mexican interior and foreign affairs ministries released a statement Monday night about the caravan. The Mexican ministries say the migrants are mainly from Honduras. Some are from Guatemala and El Salvador.
The government statement said, "Mexico's migration policy is a sovereign one, through which it seeks to ensure legal, safe and orderly migration with full respect for people's rights." However, it added the Mexican government did not support, in its words, "irregular migration."
The ministries added that officials had sent 400 members of the caravan back to their countries. The group started with about 1,100 members.
People Without Borders has called the asylum process in the United States and Mexico "punitive and unjust." A spokesperson for the group, Gina Gribo, told VOA that the organization supports migrants fighting for their rights.
The Associated Press reports that the group's director, Irineo Mujica, said that the group is not meant to march all the way to the U.S. border. However, a coordinator with the group, Alex Mensing, said on Twitter that the caravan is seeking to pressure Mexico. He said members want Mexico to give them "permission to travel to places where they can seek asylum."
The group has said that some of the members from Honduras were there because of political crises caused "in large part by the policies of the U.S. government."
Two smaller caravans reached the United States last year.
Trump comments on the group
Reports about the caravan caused American President Donald Trump to write about the issue on Twitter. He said Mexico had the power to keep migrants from entering their country. He also said that the United States has, in his words, "weak immigration policies."
The Mexican government has said it has kept the U.S. government fully informed about the situation.
Mexican Interior Secretary Alfonso Navarrete Prida said Mexico will act "to enforce our immigration laws, with no pressure whatsoever from any country whatsoever." He denied that Mexico is not making an effort to control illegal migration.
The Trump administration told reporters on Monday that it was seeking new laws to speed up some deportations of immigrants who enter the country illegally.
The administration's effort to change immigration laws is in addition to its plan to build a wall along the border with Mexico. The wall project has only received a small part of the necessary financial support from Congress.
Last year, Trump ended a program supported by former President Barack Obama. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA program affects about 800,000 people who entered the United States illegally as children. The program permits the immigrants to stay in the country and protects them from deportation.
The time limit for the law passed in March. However, a federal court ruled that it must remain in place until Congress acts. Congress has failed to pass a law to deal with the issue.
About 700,000 people officially take part in the DACA program. More than two-thirds of them are from Mexico. Others are from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and other countries.
I'm Mario Ritter.
Chris Hannas, Megan Duzor and Ken Bredemeier reported this story for VOA News. Mario Ritter adapted it for VOA Learning English with AP material. Ashley Thompson was the editor.
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Words in This Story
status –n. the current state or position of someone or something
caravan –n. a group of people or animals that travel on a long trip
sovereign –adj. having the power to govern oneself
deportation –n. the act of forcing someone from a country