U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday threatened a military closure of the U.S. border with Mexico if the neighboring country fails to stop a high-profile group of Central American travelers headed toward the United States.
Trump labeled some of the migrants as 'criminals,' and said he would resort to 'stopping all payments' to Central American countries if Mexico did not 'stop this onslaught' on the U.S.
The president tweeted as a caravan of 2,000 to 4,000 migrants that began in Honduras was approaching Mexico, with the hope of crossing into the U.S. to escape poverty and violence in the Northern Triangle region.
In a video tweeted Wednesday, U.S. Charge d'Affaires to Honduras Heide Fulton told the country's citizens: 'If you are thinking about taking the dangerous route north, don't do it,' adding a hashtag in Spanish that translates to 'Your North is here.'
Honduras has one of the highest murder rates in the world, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
Fulton also repeated Trump's earlier threat to detain and deport anyone entering the U.S. illegally, a policy the administration has referred to as 'zero tolerance.'
But the travelers see the caravan - which has split into two groups - as having dual purposes. They are seeking safety, while also protesting the conditions that pushed them to leave their homes and families behind.
'Walking this road is a way to ask governments to help us,' said one woman participating in the journey.
Trump and several members of his Cabinet have made a series of major decisions on immigration-related policies that affect asylum-seekers, refugees, migrating families, and other immigrant categories. In part, those policies led human rights watchdog Amnesty International last week to accuse the U.S. government of human rights violations for its practices regarding asylum-seekers on the border.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is scheduled to travel Thursday to Panama and then to Mexico City, where he will meet Friday with outgoing Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.
Mexico did not immediately respond to Trump's latest tweets about immigration.