Trump warns of migrant caravans, but organizers say reality far from his portrayal

Monday, April 2, 2018

WASHINGTON -- Shortly after a report on Fox News this morning about a "caravan" of migrants approaching the border, President Trump tweeted that the U.S.-Mexican border was "getting more dangerous" and "caravans" were "coming."

But the reality is far from how the president portrayed it, according to a coordinator of a so-called "caravan" that prompted the report -- and apparently the subsequent tweets.

A group of at least 1,200 Central Americans is, in fact, making its way through Mexico -- but slowly, on cargo trains, and they won't reach the U.S. border for about three more weeks, Alex Mensing, a project coordinator with Pueblo Sin Fronteras, which is organizing the march, told ABC News.

The march, versions of which have happened on and off since 2010 -- including twice last year -- will conclude at an official port of entry in California, Arizona or New Mexico, depending on train schedules, Mensing said. By then, he said, the migrants -- most of whom are Honduran -- will have heard from American and Mexican lawyers about the asylum processes in both countries.

Some will peel off before then, but most will likely claim asylum at the port of entry and be detained for anytime from a few weeks to over a year, Mensing said.

"We accompany them to an official port of entry," he said. "People aren't going to unofficial points of entry."

Organizers hope the "caravan," like other recent marches, will highlight the issues of the right to seek asylum and the right to seek refuge, Mensing said.

Fox News' "Fox and Friends" twice this morning discussed a BuzzFeed report from Friday, referring to the group as an "army of migrants marching to America" and a "small migrant army marching toward the United States."

One anchor questioned the organizers' agenda, saying "it feels like more of a message, a movement to create a clash."

About an hour after the second segment ran, Trump -- who is reportedly a frequent "Fox and Friends" viewer -- tweeted that it was "getting more dangerous" at the border and that there were "'caravans' coming."

Trump added: "Mexico is doing very little, if not NOTHING, at stopping people from flowing into Mexico through their Southern Border, and then into the U.S."

He also connected the march to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which protects people who came to the United States as children and remained illegally.

"These big flows of people are all trying to take advantage of DACA. They want in on the act!" the president tweeted.

But the end goal of the march has nothing to do with DACA and instead, Mensing said, will see participants legally claiming asylum at an official border entry point.

"All are people who are fleeing some form of violence or persecution in Central America," he said.

Both caravans last year ended at California's San Ysidros border crossing, near San Diego, Mensing added. This year's started on March 25, in the city of Tapachula, in Mexico's far south, he said.

Mexico's foreign minister, Luis Videgaray, took issue with Trump's accusation that Mexico was taking little action on migration, tweeting, "Every day Mexico and the US work together on migration throughout the region."

Migrating through Mexico can prove dangerous for Central Americans headed north. Many fall victim to human traffickers and suffer abuses. Banding together has helped promote safety, Mensing said.

"They are really leading this and protecting themselves as they flee," he said.

Related Topics