Caravan migrants stalled at Texas border eye other routes

The governor of the northern state of Coahuila described the migrants as “asylum seekers,” suggesting all had express intentions of surrendering to US authorities. (File/AP)
Updated 07 February 2019
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Caravan migrants stalled at Texas border eye other routes

  • Around 1,700 caravan migrants want to avoid a potentially months-long wait for a chance to plead their case for asylum
  • Thousands of mostly Central American migrants have made the dangerous trek through Mexico to the US border since October

PIEDRAS NEGRAS, Mexico: Some Central American migrants seeking entry into the United States but stalled near a Texas crossing said on Wednesday they are considering moving to another part of the border, where they may have a better chance of lodging a speedy asylum claim.
Mulling their next move from the dusty Mexican town of Piedras Negras, just south of the Eagle Pass crossing on the US side, the latest group of around 1,700 caravan migrants want to avoid a potentially months-long wait for a chance to plead their case for asylum.
Many say they are also waiting for a so-called humanitarian visa from the Mexican government that could lead to local job opportunities, but are afraid of the area’s hyper-violent Zetas drug cartel that has targeted migrants in the past.
“We can’t stop here,” said Oscar Lopez, a 33-year-old Honduran traveling with his wife and two daughters.
He said that his family fled death threats from gangs back home. “If we don’t (cross) here, we’ll go to anther part of the border,” he said.
US President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that 3,750 additional military troops would be sent to the US-Mexico border to support border agents and thwart what he described as “the tremendous onslaught” of US-bound migrants.
Asylum seekers have traditionally been granted the right to stay in the United States while their cases were decided by a US immigration judge, but a backlog of more than 800,000 cases means the process can take years.
Some 250 military personnel are being re-deployed from positions in Arizona to Eagle Pass “in response to migrant caravan activity currently approaching the Texas border,” the US Department of Defense announced on Wednesday.
The personnel includes military police, medical personnel and engineers.
Thousands of mostly Central American migrants have made the dangerous trek through Mexico to the US border since October, stoking Trump’s ire.
The Trump administration announced a policy on Dec. 20 that the United States will return non-Mexican migrants who cross the border back to Mexico while their asylum requests are processed.
“These migrants face many risks,” including organized crime, corrupt local police and hostility from local residents, said Alberto Xicotencatl, who runs a shelter in the Coahuila state capital of Saltillo, about 250 miles (400 km) south of Piedras Negras.
Earlier this week, Coahuila Governor Miguel Angel Riquelme said he would not permit the caravan migrants to cross his state, but he did not detail any specific measures.
Hundreds of migrants from the first caravan remain stuck in the Mexican border city of Tijuana, many waiting their turn to legally enter and formally request asylum in the United States.


Macron meets Syrian Kurds, vows French support in fight against Daesh

Updated 19 April 2019
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Macron meets Syrian Kurds, vows French support in fight against Daesh

  • Macron assured the SDF representatives, who were not named, of the "active support of France in the fight against Daesh which continues to be a menace for collective security"
  • European capitals are all keeping a careful eye on the Daesh prisoners held by the SDF after the defeat of the extremists, given many are dual nationals

PARIS: President Emmanuel Macron on Friday hosted representatives of the Kurdish-led force that defeated Daesh extremists in Syria, assuring them of France's support in the fight against remaining extremists.
The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) had in late March flushed out Daesh from their last bastion in Syria but still warn the terrorists remain a threat in places.
The SDF is an umbrella force of Kurds and Arabs dominated by Kurds from the People's Protection Units (YPG) militia. It is regarded with huge distrust by neighbouring Turkey which sees the YPG as a terror group.
Macron assured the SDF representatives, who were not named, of the "active support of France in the fight against Daesh which continues to be a menace for collective security," the presidency said in a statement.
Particularly important was the support in the "handling of terrorist fighters held as prisoners along with their families."
European capitals are all keeping a careful eye on the Daesh prisoners held by the SDF after the defeat of the extremists, given many are dual nationals.
Macron also vowed that financial support would be allocated to "respond to the humanitarian needs and the socio-economic stabilisation of civilian populations in Syria."
The SDF were the key ally of the West in defeating Daesh and waged the bulk of the fighting on the ground.
But they fear being abandoned by their patrons now Daesh is beaten, after US President Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of American forces from Syria.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian had in April announced one million euros ($1.1 million) in humanitarian aid for camps housing displaced people, notably Al-Hol which holds thousands of women and children who lived in Daesh-held areas.
France's past contacts with the SDF's Syrian Kurds have angered Turkey, which regards the YPG as the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
The PKK has waged a 35-year insurrection against the Turkish state.
Macron also made clear of the importance to Paris of "the security of Turkey and a de-escalation along the Syrian-Turkish border," the presidency said.