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Migrant caravan is a national emergency, claims Trump

23 October 2018

After President Donald Trump suggested Monday that he would block foreign aid to three Central American countries in retaliation for a caravan of thousands of migrants who are trekking north towards the U.S. -Mexico border, retiring Republican Senator Jeff Flake questioned the wisdom of such a response. Mexico's National Migration Institute says the Mexican government has processed more than 1,000 refugee claims in the past three days.

One of the group's organizers, Rodrigo Aveja, told the Washington Post he believes there are "at least 5,600 now, and we expect more to join us" as the group reached almost double the size of the caravan that moved through Central America and Mexico in the spring.

Trump has made it quite clear he is unhappy about the situation, turning the specter of the caravan into a central element of his campaign stops ahead of next month's midterm elections.

While such caravans have occurred semi-regularly over the years, this one has become a particularly hot topic ahead of USA midterm elections in early November, and an immigrant rights activist traveling with the group accused Trump of using it to stir up his Republican base.

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But this year's migrant caravan appears to be the biggest ever. The group is at least 1,140 miles (1,830 kilometers) from the nearest border crossing - McAllen, Texas - and the length of the journey could more than double if the migrants go to Tijuana-San Diego, on the other side of the country.

"They just took this blockade away, all the police left and the caravan kept marching", journalist James Fredrick reported for NPR.

United States administrations have long seen aid programmes as an essential part of efforts to stabilize the countries of Central America and stem the flow of migrants leaving. Most are from Honduras, but hundreds have also joined from El Salvador and Guatemala.

In Honduras alone, agricultural investments by the U.S. Agency for International Development "have helped lift 68,000 people out of extreme poverty", according to the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, a group advocating for stronger international assistance.

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He vowed to reach the US border.

Do you have any ideas what the president is talking about when he says there are unknown Middle Easterners mixed in with the caravan.

The group's charge from the White House is simple and explicit: Replace what the administration describes as "catch and release", the practice of releasing immigrants from detention while they wait for court hearings. "That's why I'm going to the USA, so I can give them a better life", she said of her family.

Separately, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto told a business summit that those in the caravan who did not follow the rules were unlikely to be able to remain in Mexico or reach the United States. Paola Oviedo said she was one of many migrants who crossed the Suchiate River in rafts after Mexican officials stopped them on the bridge, the legal point of entry from Guatemala.

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"These, for the most part, overwhelmingly, are people who are either fleeing violence or looking for a better life", said Flake. We have to leave our country because it's very unsafe. "But we're warriors, and we've got to get to the place we've got to be".

Migrant caravan is a national emergency, claims Trump