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Mexico Increases Security To Block Hondurans Who Aim To Reach The U.S.


To Mexico and the imminent arrival of thousands of Central American migrants traveling in a so-called caravan from Honduras, their ultimate destination the United States - President Trump is tweeting his plans to cut aid to any country that helps the migrants. He's also threatened to send the U.S. military to shut down the southwest border if this caravan isn't stopped. And the White House is considering reviving the family separation policy to discourage families from coming north. Well, for its part, Mexico has ramped up security along its southern border. It says only migrants with valid paperwork will be allowed to enter Mexico.

Reporter James Fredrick is at the Tecun Uman border crossing that's between Guatemala and Mexico. And he joins me now. Hey, James.


KELLY: Describe exactly where you are, what you can see.

FREDRICK: I am on the bridge that connects Mexico and Guatemala. It's above the river that divides these two countries. Above me is a sign that says bienvenidos a Mexico - the entrance to Mexico. But you can tell Mexican security forces are preparing because there are dozens of police in riot gear waiting here for the imminent arrival of this caravan. About five minutes down the bridge from where I'm walking is the central square where 300 to 400 members of this migrant caravan are waiting for the rest to arrive.

KELLY: Who are these migrants? Where are they coming from? Why are they coming?

FREDRICK: So most of the migrants that I spoke to are from Honduras, but also some are from El Salvador and Guatemala. Let's listen to Judy (ph), a 34-year-old I spoke to in that central square as she was cradling her exhausted 5-year-old son on her lap.

JUDY: (Speaking Spanish).

FREDRICK: So what she says is that there's no safety, no jobs, no medicine and hospitals. She also went on to say that in Honduras, it feels like freedom of assembly and expression are being repressed by the government of President Juan Orlando Hernandez. She said it's just unlivable in Honduras for her right now. Some cite violence as the main factor. Some cite poverty. But the people that I met are just absolutely desperate.

KELLY: Has she or anybody else actually tried to cross onto the Mexican side of the border yet?

FREDRICK: No. They are pretty dead set on crossing as a group and being a big, visible force that tries to cross. So they see strength in visibility and numbers.

KELLY: Now, I mentioned the Mexican position. They're saying that only migrants with valid paperwork are going to be allowed to cross into Mexico. What counts as valid paperwork in this case?

FREDRICK: Well, the main thing is a passport. To get into Mexico, you need your passport. You need a visa, whatever paperwork comes along with that. The people in the caravan just do not have that, so it's very unlikely that many of the people in the caravan are going to meet that requirement from the Mexican government. And then the Mexican government went on to say that if people wanted to request asylum in Mexico, they could, but they would do that from a detention center and that if anyone tried to cross illegally, they'd be detained and deported back to their home country.

KELLY: As you talk to these people - and I mentioned the U.S. is threatening to revive the family separation policy again - are you asking them about that? Does it seem to deter people in any way?

FREDRICK: People are - for the most part are very aware of what Trump says and what the administration has been doing. At the end of the day, the push factors that are pushing them out of their home countries - violence, poverty, things like that - they think that is worse than whatever they could face trying to get into the United States. So they do weigh it out. People, you know, especially traveling in a big group - they talk. They're pretty aware of the state of things, and they still think it's worth it.

KELLY: Reporter James Fredrick on a bridge between Mexico and Guatemala - thanks so much, James.

FREDRICK: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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