Trump 'just using us as pretext': migrant caravan leader
Tuesday, April 03, 2018       00:49 WIB

Mexico City, April 2, 2018 (AFP)
A leader of a caravan of US-bound migrants from Central America that has provoked Donald Trump's fury said Monday the American president is using the movement as a "pretext."
Trump has repeatedly taken to Twitter over the past two days to vent his outrage over the caravan, a group of hundreds of Central Americans crossing Mexico toward the United States in hopes of obtaining asylum or refugee status.
The Republican president threatened to axe the NAFTA trade deal -- Mexico's "cash cow," he said -- unless Mexico better polices its borders.
He also declared he no longer supported a new version of DACA , the program that had offered protection against deportation to some 700,000 undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children.
But caravan organizer Rodrigo Abeja alleged Trump's DACA decision "was already made."
"This is just a pretense to lay the blame somewhere else. He's just using our movement, the caravan, as a pretext," he told AFP from the town of Matias Romero, in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca.
He said the group was there meeting with Mexican authorities to decide how to proceed.
Their immediate goal is to reach the central city of Puebla, he said, where US and Mexican legal experts will counsel individual migrants and families from April 5 to 8 to advise them what their options are for seeking asylum or refugee status, either in Mexico or the United States.
Central American migrants are often fleeing brutal violence in their home countries, where gang warfare has led to some of the highest murder rates in the world.
The caravan initially had about 1,500 migrants, but Romero said some 300 have traveled ahead to scout out the route.
About 80 percent of the group is from Honduras, with the remainder from Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua, he said.
He said the Mexican authorities seem unsure how to handle the group.
"The Mexican government is under a lot of pressure from the United States to show that it has control over its borders. But it also can't take direct action (such as deporting the migrants) because there is already a lot of public exposure," he said.
Similar caravans have been organized each of the past five years by activists from Pueblo Sin Fronteras, or People Without Borders.
This year's caravan set off on March 25 from the southern Mexican state of Chiapas.

Sumber : AFP