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Trump threatens to use military to close Mexican border, as migrant caravan approaches

Trump threatens to use military to close Mexican border, as migrant caravan approaches
President Donald Trump has threatened to call in the military to seal off the US’ southern border with Mexico, unless the Mexico takes action to halt a ‘caravan’ of migrants making its way to the US from Central America.

In a series of tweets Thursday morning, Trump accused the governments of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador of allowing a large ‘caravan’ of migrants to proceed towards the US unchecked, and hit out at the Democratic party for opposing his own brand of tough border control.

Trump also said that he “must, in the strongest of terms, ask Mexico to stop this onslaught - and if unable to do so I will call up the U.S. Military and CLOSE OUR SOUTHERN BORDER!..”

The president’s warning echoes an earlier tweet on Wednesday, in which he again blasted Democrats for refusing to approve tighter border control and immigration laws. Trump said that the immigration debate would be a “great midterm issue for Republicans,” with November’s elections less than one month away.

The ‘caravan’ of migrants in question, believed to be several thousand strong, has been snaking its way north from Honduras since last weekend. Believing their chances of entering the US are greater in numbers, the migrants have been hitching rides and hiking through Guatemala, with the aim of approaching the US through Mexico.

The Honduran government has urged people not to join the caravan, but the government of Guatemala is powerless to stop its progress, as citizens of Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua can freely move between the four countries showing only an ID card.

Upon reaching Mexico, the migrants must show a valid visa to enter the country, or face deportation, therefore Trump has focused much of his pressure on the Mexican government. In his series of Thursday tweets, Trump threatened to rip up a recently signed trade agreement with Mexico if Enrique Peña Nieto’s government doesn’t act to stop illegal immigration and the drug trade at the border, with Mexican drug cartels making an estimated $19-29 billion per year on drug sales in the US.

A similar caravan of migrants made the journey to the US in April, taking the same route from Honduras to the United States, via Guatemala and Mexico. Again, Trump used the caravan to push tough immigration laws, which were rejected by Democrats. Dwindling in numbers along the way, the caravan totalled around 150 migrants by the time it reached Tijuana, at the US border. Visas were granted to a handful of these migrants.

While Trump did not make clear what a military deployment at the border might look like, the president did deploy almost 4,000 National Guard troops to the border in April, as the first caravan approached. However, the troops were not authorized to apprehend or interact with migrants in any way, and instead provided air, reconnaissance and logistical support to Border Patrol officers.

In 2016, it was estimated that 400,000 migrants pass through Mexico every year. 20,000 of these migrants die or disappear along the way, many of them at the hands of criminal gangs, according to a report by the Mesoamerican Migration Movement.

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