Migrants reject Trump’s sinister characterizations
DONAJI, Mexico — As President Trump ramps up his anti-migrant rhetoric ahead of Tuesday’s midterm elections, exhausted Central Americans walking across Mexico in hopes of reaching the United States say they are mostly perplexed and dismayed by his threats, which they perceive as exaggerated.
Trump has spent the final days of the campaign hammering the issue as he tries to energize Republican voters, and his favorite target has been the migrant caravan of almost 4,000 people that is still more than 800 miles away from the nearest U.S. border. Smaller groups are following behind it.
Trump’s recent statements include that he plans to sign an order that could lead to the detention of migrants crossing the southern border, and barring anyone caught crossing illegally from claiming asylum. Both propositions are legally dubious.
While some migrants have clashed with Mexican police at a bridge on the Guatemala border, most of those traveling with the caravans have been peaceful and say they are fleeing violence and poverty at home.
Marta Cuellos, a 40-year-old from Tegucigalpa, the Honduran capital, said she owned a cantina back home but left because she could no longer make rent and was being harassed by police. She persuaded her 35-year-old sister to join her on the trip, and said the only thing they want is work and a better life in the United States. It’s her second attempt. She first crossed into the U.S. seven years ago but was deported last year.
Selvin Maldonado, a 25year-old from Copan, Honduras, said he left his wife and baby daughter at home in search of a better living to support his children. He took his 5-year-old son, Dennys, with him.
“What Trump said is stupid,” Maldonado said while walking to the town of Donaji. “I don’t want to attack police, because my concern is my son.”
The migrants also were also turned off by the president’s characterization of the slowmoving caravan and the smaller ones after as “invasion.” Trump has proposed detaining migrants in huge tent cities at the border.
“We are not killers,” said Stephany Lopez, a 21-year-old Salvadoran with the first caravan. “We just want to work for a few years, and after that he can deport us if he wants.”
Lopez noted that the president’s mother, who was born in Scotland, was an immigrant. “He should think of us as equals. Immigrants have built that country,” she said.
Sonia Perez D. is an Associated Press writer.
Migrants — mostly Hondurans — make their way from the community of Sayula toward the town of Isla in Veracruz state. President Trump has vilified the group ahead of elections.