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President Donald Trump ordered the Department of Homeland Security on Monday to turn away a group of migrants who were approaching the U.S.-Mexico border after traveling from Central America. (Photo: John Moore/Getty Images)

'Illegally' Turning Back on Refugees, Trump Orders DHS to Bar Migrants Fleeing Violence From Entry

"The biggest flaw in Trump's thinking is that there is nothing illegal or improper about people in fear for their lives asking for protection."

Julia Conley

Immigrant rights groups slammed President Donald Trump on Monday after he ordered the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to turn away several dozen immigrants who were approaching the U.S.-Mexico border, after they'd spent weeks traveling from Central America.

Trump has characterized the people traveling to the border as drug traffickers and criminals and in recent weeks has singled out this particular caravan as the latest reason to build a border wall. Refugee advocates have stressed that the caravan includes men, woman, and children who are seeking asylum after fleeing violence in their home countries, such as Honduras, where unrest has followed last November's election of conservative President Juan Orlando Hernandez.

"The biggest flaw in Trump's thinking is that there is nothing illegal or improper about people in fear for their lives asking for protection," Adam Isacson of the Washington Office on Latin America told Newsweek. "But Trump sees gang members, criminals, people trying to take jobs illegally—to be frank, he sees nonwhite people. He's not seeing people fleeing violence."

On Monday, Trump tweeted that he had ordered DHS to refuse entry for the migrants and added that he may demand that Mexico turn Central American asylum-seekers away at their border.

Mexican officials have resettled hundreds of the 1,500 immigrants traveling in the caravan in recent weeks, and have allowed others to apply for asylum in Mexico. About 50 of the travelers proceeded towards the U.S. before Trump announced Monday that they would be turned away. Some arrived last week, according to Pueblo Sin Fronteras, which has coordinated the caravan—and many other groups of refugees—helping the group to stay together during the journey.

"There have already been cases of people being illegally turned away by border officials when trying to request asylum at the U.S. border," Alex Mensing, the group's spokesperson, told Newsweek.

Matthew Gertz, Senior Fellow at Media Matters, noted that Trump appeared to announce his directive to DHS just after Fox News reported on the caravan


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