The thousands of Central Americans making up the invasion caravan headed for the US border have refused “asylum” in Mexico offered by that country’s president, preferring instead to keep their sights firmly set on white America.
According to reports, the 5,500 men, women and children in the invasion caravan turned down an offer by Mexico to help them find shelter and work in the country on Friday night but said they may be willing to discuss the offer again when they reached the Mexican capital. That is a further 800 kilometers (500 miles) to the north.
Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto announced that his government would offer support to people from the caravan who agreed to apply for asylum in Mexico.
Pena Nieto spoke directly to migrants in a video address about the plan. “We know very well that what you’re seeking is an opportunity, you want to build a new home and a better future for your family and loved ones. Today, Mexico lends you a hand,” he said.
The plan, dubbed “You are at home,” would grant migrants a temporary residence permit while their asylum applications are processed. They would also be eligible to receive medical care, obtain a temporary job permit and enroll their children in school.
The AP reported that the invaders held a vote on the offer near the southern Mexican town of Arriaga, but decided to proceed with their journey.
“Thank you!” they yelled as they rejected the offer in a show of hands, before adding: “No, we’re heading north!”
The group is still 1,600 kilometers from the nearest US border crossing at McAllen, Texas.
US President Donald Trump said the migrants posed a threat to the US, and that “criminals and unknown Middle Easterners” were “mixed in” with the crowd. Trump has railed against Central American governments for not doing enough to stop the caravan and cited the incident as a reason for tightening immigration laws in the US.
On Friday, US officials told the Reuters news agency that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis had authorized the use of troops and other military resources at the US-Mexico border. While the Pentagon did not comment on the matter, officials told Reuters that some 800 troops could be deployed as early as Tuesday.
Mattis is said to have authorized the army to provide “mission-enhancing capabilities” to US Customs and Border Protection, including engineering support to help build temporary barriers and housing.
The invasion caravan began in Honduras nearly two weeks ago and other Central Americans have joined it along the way.