Participants in the 7,000-strong Migrant Caravan, or Central American Exodus as it has been branded by its organizers, have rejected a proposal by Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto titled “You Are in Your Home.”
The plan, which was announced Friday, sort to offer members of the caravan, many of whom are fleeing violence and hunger in their countries of origin, a path to a form of “regularize status” while ultimately preventing them from traveling north to the United States.
“Being in Mexico, you will be able to access medical attention and even send your kids to school; you will also have an official temporary ID to do the paperwork you need while you regularize your migratory situation,” Peña Nieto said in a video shared through his official Twitter account.
However, the proposal was limited to people currently in the states of Chiapas and Oaxaca and required migrants making their way to the U.S. to appear before Mexico’s National Institute of Migration (INM) to request refuge, two requirements, which caused mistrust among participants.
“We don’t want more city or states that serve as jails to confine migrant people without freedom of movement,” a statement published by a representative group for the caravan said. Members of the caravan also condemned the systematic form of harassment used against them by INM and issued a call for the state to “guarantee their safety and respected their human rights.”
The statement comes after members of the exodus gathered in a general assembly in the central park of Arriaga, in the state of Chiapas to discuss their response to the Mexican state’s offer.
“This plan does not truly address the causes of the Central American exodus and does not solve their needs from a perspective respectful of their human rights,” the collective argued.
They have also called for a dialogue in Mexico City with federal authorities and the current and incoming governments “for them to hear and recognize their realities and to reach consensual agreements.”
As Peña Nieto offered “protection and support” for those who were willing to stop their journey north, U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis authorized the deployment of troops to the U.S.’ sudden southern border with Mexico. The number of troops remains unknown, however, Reuters reported Thursday that between 800 and 1,000 troops could be deployed.
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said Thursday they “asked for some air support, for some logistics, some planning, vehicle barriers, engineering, ways in which I can protect my officers and agents as well as the ports of entry themselves.” According to Nielsen, the U.S. has no “intention right now to shoot at people” but warned they will be apprehended.
Despite the Donald Trump administration’s continued threats to the thousands of asylum seekers, thousands continued their march to the municipality of San Pedro Tapanatepec, in the neighboring state of Oaxaca Saturday at 6:00 am.