According to new reports, officials in Mexico are preparing for the potential arrival of a new group of Central American migrants, comprised of an estimated 20,000 people, dubbed the “mother of all caravans.”
“We have information that a new caravan is forming in Honduras, that they’re calling ‘the mother of all caravans,’ and they are thinking it could have more than 20,000 people,” said Mexico’s Interior Secretary, Olga Sanchez Cordero.
Some pro-migration groups have refuted the rumors of the latest caravan, which they attributed to the Trump administration, alleging the reports are an attempt “to spread fear.”
Throughout 2018, Mexico struggled to cope with growing numbers of Central American migrant caravans en route to the US.
On Friday, President Trump warned Mexican authorities to halt all illegal border crossings at the US-Mexico borderline, threatening to close the border as early as next week.
Pres. Trump threatens to close the U.S.-Mexico border next week if Mexico doesn't stop an impending caravan of migrants.
"If they don't stop them, we're closing the border," he says. "I'm not playing games." pic.twitter.com/fPvEjdjJZH
— Harry Cherry (@TheHarryCherry) March 29, 2019
Mexico is bracing for the possible arrival of the “mother of all caravans,” even as doubts arise over whether the group of Central American migrants will be all that big.
Interior Secretary Olga Sanchez Cordero has said a caravan of migrants from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala could be forming.
“We have information that a new caravan is forming in Honduras, that they’re calling ‘the mother of all caravans,’ and they are thinking it could have more than 20,000 people,” Sanchez Cordero said Wednesday.
But a WhatsApp group calling for people to gather Saturday in El Salvador to set off for Guatemala only has about 206 members.
Activist Irineo Mujica, who has accompanied several caravans in Mexico, said reports about “the mother of all caravans” were false, claiming “this is information that (U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen) Nielsen is using to create fear.”
His group, Pueblo Sin Fronteras, said in a statement there was no evidence the new caravan would be that large, noting “there has never been a caravan of the size that Sanchez Cordero mentioned.” Indeed, past caravans hit very serious logistical hurdles at 7,000-strong.
He and others suspect the administration of President Donald Trump may be trying to fan fears of a big caravan to turn the U.S. national agenda back to the immigration issue.
A caravan of about 2,500 Central Americans and Cubans is currently making its way through Mexico’s southern state of Chiapas. The largest of last year’s caravans in Mexico contained about 7,000 people at its peak, though some estimates ran as high as 10,000 at some points.
Mexico appears to be both tiring of the caravans and eager not to anger the United States. It has stopped granting migrants humanitarian visas at the border, and towns along the well-traveled route to Mexico City sometimes no longer allow caravans to spend the night.