It has been roughly one month since the Central American migrant caravan reached the southern U.S. border in Tijuana, Mexico, where the trip north ground to a halt as the effort to illegally enter the U.S. was repulsed by the U.S. border agents backed by the U.S. military and President Donald Trump.
In the meantime, some of the migrants and caravan organizers have grown increasingly desperate at the unexpected delay in the original plan, and a rather bold effort to shift circumstances in favor of the migrants was launched on Tuesday as two separate groups of migrants audaciously issued lists of demands to representatives at the U.S. Consulate in Tijuana.
$50,000 or let us in
The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that the first group of about 100 migrants arrived at the consulate Tuesday morning and submitted a letter with a list of complaints and demands to the U.S. government.
That letter criticized past and present interventionist U.S. policy in Central America, and demanded the Trump administration either let the entirety of the caravan enter the U.S. or pay each member $50,000 for them to return to their home countries, ostensibly to start a small business.
The group gave the Trump administration 72 hours to address their demands.
“It may seem like a lot of money to you,” said caravan organizer Alfonso Guerrero Ulloa of Honduras. “But it is a small sum compared to everything the United States has stolen from Honduras.”
Hurry up and let us all in
The second letter of demands was received by the consulate from a group of about 50 caravan members. That group urged the U.S. government to dramatically speed up the asylum process, demanding the admittance of roughly 300 asylum seekers per day as opposed to the 40-100 who are currently processed per day.
That letter also demanded that the U.S. government intervene in Honduras and oust that nation’s elected leader, President Juan Orlando Hernandez, even as that letter blamed U.S. interventionist policies for causing the “refugee crisis” in the first place.
The group of 50 further urged Mexican officials to stop working in coordination with the local Tijuana police to detain and deport members of the caravan.
Contradictory and outrageous demands
The two groups with disparate letters of demands were reportedly unaffiliated with each other, as was glaringly apparent by the one letter criticizing U.S. intervention in Honduras while the other demanded more intervention.
Regardless, the demand letters reveal a growing sense of desperation among the caravan migrants stuck in Tijuana, as the reportedly once-6,000-strong group has dwindled by roughly half over the past month.
According to a caravan organizer who spoke with Mexican officials, about 700 migrants have voluntarily returned to their home country, another 300 were deported, and some 2,500 have accepted humanitarian visas in Mexico.
An unknown number of migrants have also either already entered the U.S. illegally, quietly settled in other parts of Mexico, or simply vanished without a trace.
Dwindling numbers and outrageous lists of demands signify the precarious nature of the caravan’s current situation, which was summed up well by a migrant named Douglas Matute when he said: “A lot of people are leaving because there is no solution here. We thought they would let us in. But Trump sent the military instead of social workers.”
President Trump made it abundantly clear from the moment the caravan first formed that it would not be allowed to enter the U.S., and he has stood firm on that. The migrants of the caravan are slowly coming to realize that Trump wasn’t bluffing — they aren’t going to just waltz into the U.S.