U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered a strong warning to the U.S.-bound migrant caravan on Tuesday.
“You will not be successful in getting into the United States illegally, no matter what,” Pompeo said. “I repeat: The caravan will not cross our southern border illegally under any circumstances.”
The caravan of more than 7,000 migrants is trekking northward through Mexico with the goal of entering the U.S. Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico have failed to stop the caravan so far, prompting President Trump to announce he would follow through with his threat and begin cutting foreign aid to those countries.
Pompeo noted that the caravan is “violating Mexico’s sovereignty, laws, and immigration procedures.”
He added, “President Trump will not stand for this to happen in the United States.”
He urged migrants to pursue legal means of immigration, citing one million immigrants each year who do so and are granted legal status. More than 30 million legal migrants are currently living in the U.S.
“Legal immigration is the surest way to obtain the better life you are looking for,” Pompeo said. “If you seek to come here, go through the normal refugee process.”
Pompeo explained that the administration’s stance is a matter of national security.
“There is no proper accounting of who these individuals in the caravan are, and this poses an unacceptable security risk to the United States,” he explained. “Moreover, many of these people are ripe targets for human traffickers and others who would exploit them. We don’t want that to happen.”
Pompeo’s remarks are similar to those made by President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, who suggested that criminals and migrants of Middle East origin could be among the caravan.
Sadly, it looks like Mexico’s Police and Military are unable to stop the Caravan heading to the Southern Border of the United States. Criminals and unknown Middle Easterners are mixed in. I have alerted Border Patrol and Military that this is a National Emergy. Must change laws!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 22, 2018
The issue is one that has also been raised by the Department of Homeland Security.
DHS spokesman Tyler Houlton said the caravan does contain migrants who are identified as criminals or gang members, and originate from the Middle East, Asia, Africa and other nations.
“.@DHSgov can confirm that there are individuals within the caravan who are gang members or have significant criminal histories,” he said in a tweet.
.@DHSgov can confirm that there are individuals within the caravan who are gang members or have significant criminal histories.
— Tyler Q. Houlton (@SpoxDHS) October 23, 2018
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen also warned that the caravan could contain criminals and smugglers.
“While we closely monitor the caravan crisis, we must remain mindful of the transnational criminal organizations and other criminals that prey on the vulnerabilities of those undertaking the irregular migration journey,” Nielsen said, as reported by the Daily Mail.
“We shall work with our partners in the region to investigate and prosecute to the fullest extent of the law all who seek to encourage and profit from irregular migration,” she added.