Several thousand Honduran and other Central American migrants waiting at the Mexico-Guatemala border in hopes of making it to the United States are in limbo this weekend as the Mexican government and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees decide whether and how the international organization will intervene.
On Thursday, Mexican Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray asked U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to help process the migrants arriving at its southern border and deploy UNHCR personnel to determine which asylum requests are legitimate, and which are not. From there, refugees could be directed to an accepting country, including the U.S. or others.
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UNHCR could not share a timeline for the talks because the events in question are still fluid.
The proposal has the potential to take the weight off the Department of Homeland Security's U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency, which is responsible for processing all asylum requests when migrants arrive at its borders.
Instead, refugees would be interviewed by U.N. staff then go into a worldwide waiting pool until a country has an opening.
For now, the organization is not establishing a migrant processing center in Mexico but lending advice and operational support to regional governments to ensure "adequate refugee receptions" exist.
Last Saturday, a group of 160 Hondurans set out for the southern border of the U.S. Over the course of a week, that group grew to between 2,000 and 4,000 people, according to various estimates.
Honduras leads the world as the country with the highest murder rate. The country is home to 8.25 million people and has reported 90.4 murders for every 100,000 residents, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
Trump urged Mexico to stop the caravan before it gets to America's southern border. Mexico deployed hundreds of additional federal immigration officers and police to the state of Chiapas on Tuesday, and the request for the U.N.'s help was seen as a further step to take control of the situation.
Chiapas is one of two Mexican states that border Guatemala. Federal officials believe the Honduran group will try to enter Mexico from the state’s 200-mile international border.
Mexico’s Interior Ministry has warned it will only allow those granted visas to cross into the country. Those in the caravan would have had to have applied for visas at the Mexican consulates in Honduras. Mexico requires its neighbors to obtain visas in order to enter the country.