By James Wright
A caravan of more than 8,000 Central American migrants is currently on its way to the U.S.-Mexico border, and other groups are already following in its footsteps, according to CNN.
The original group of migrants was organized in El Salvador, and has been making its way through Mexico since last week, according to The New York Times.
To maintain efficiency, the migrant groups are highly organized. More than 500 people are using four different groups in the mobile messaging platform WhatsApp to effectively organize an additional caravan that President Donald Trump has identified as a national security issue, according to CNN.
Despite being tracked by the Department of Homeland Security, organizers of the migrant group’s caravan seem relatively optimistic.
“Don’t be afraid,’” said an unidentified migrant who has contributed greatly to the formation of the caravan, according to CNN. “‘These caravans are being monitored by the entire world. Once you reach the U.S.-Mexico border, if you don’t force your way through no one will hurt you. Only God knows what will happen though.”
As of Oct. 25, the migrant caravan has neared Mapastepec, in Chiapas, Mexico, according to BBC. Some migrants seek a higher quality of life in the U.S., while some hope to reap economic benefits.
Changes in American immigration laws have made it more difficult for asylum seekers to qualify and apply for refuge in the U.S. Despite the international mandate to hear asylum claimants from those who are fleeing war-stricken areas, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced in June that victims of domestic abuse and gang violence would no longer qualify for asylum in the country, and that refugees must be escaping persecution from their home countries in order to qualify, according to BBC.
Refugees and economic migrants are not the same and are therefore not awarded the same protections, according to BBC.
Trump has put pressure on the Mexican government to help curtail the growing caravan, as a newly-proposed bilateral agreement between the U.S. and Mexico allows U.S. border officials to legally turn away asylum seekers who have passed through Mexico, forcing them to find refuge somewhere else, according to The New York Times.
Following an order from Trump, Defense Secretary James Mattis is expected to deploy 800 troops to the border to stop the migrant caravan from entering the U.S., as the administration sees the issue as an attack on the nation’s sovereignty, according to BBC.