“It is a small sum compared to everything the United States has stolen from Honduras.”
A group of migrants marched to the US Consulate in Tijuana on Tuesday and issued an ultimatum to the Trump administration: Either let us into the United States of pay us $50,000 each to go home.
The demand came from a group of some 100 migrants, one of two groups that came to the embassy during the day to present demand letters. The letters also included the demand that they be processed through the asylum system more quickly and in greater numbers, and that deportations from Mexico be halted, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.
Alfonso Guerreo Ulloa, an organizer from Honduras, explained to the newspaper that the money his group was demanding was the least the United States could do given its past intervention in Central America.
“It may seem like a lot of money to you,” he said. “But it is a small sum compared to everything the United States has stolen from Honduras.”
He said the money would allow the migrants to return home and start a small business.
The group’s letter also asked the United States to remove Guatemalan President Juan Orlando Hernandez from office, calling him a “dictator.” It gave the consulate 72 hours to respond. But Ulloa acknowledged he had no plan for how to respond if the demands were not met.
“I don’t know, we will decide as a group,” he said.
Uloa’s group is a faction of the roughly 6,000 migrants who have traveled from their homes in Central America to Tijuana as part of a caravan in recent weeks in hopes of entering the United States. The migrants, many of whom are fleeing violence or poor economic conditions, joined several thousand others who were already waiting to have their asylum applications processed.
According to Xochtil Castillo, a caravan member who met with Mexican officials Tuesday, around 700 migrants have recently returned home, 300 have been deported and 2,500 have applied for humanitarian visas in Mexico. Others have either crossed into the U.S. illegally, moved to other parts of Mexico or have “fallen through the cracks,” the Union-Tribune said.
“A lot of people are leaving because there is no solution here,” said Douglas Matute, 38, of Tijuana. “We thought they would let us in. But Trump sent the military instead of social workers.”
President Donald Trump has called the caravan an invasion and threatened to “close the border permanently.” On Tuesday, he said told reporters he was willing to shut down the federal government, if necessary, to get Congress to fund the construction of a wall along the border.
So, the claim that Americans are indebted to Central Americans ― though it plays into a particular progressive narrative that to varying degrees sees national borders as illegitimate ― is unlikely to help the migrants’ cause.