WASHINGTON — President Trump threatened to mobilize the military and shut down the southern border to stop a caravan offrom entering the U.S. As many as 4,000 people are making their way from Honduras to Guatemala and north to Mexico, with their sights set on the U.S. border.
The groups are sleeping in shelters and accepting food and money from strangers. Many say they have fled violence in their home countries, some with little more than the clothes on their backs.
After crossing into Guatemala on Monday, the next major border is Mexico, where the government has deployed hundreds of police. Many migrants will be told to return home, while some will be allowed to seek asylum.
"There is a humanitarian crisis going on and we need to call it what it is," said Geronimo Gutierrez, the Mexican ambassador to the U.S.
But Mr. Trump lashed out at the caravan, alleging on Twitter the "onslaught" includes "many criminals."
Since the president suspended his controversial family separation policy in June, illegal border crossings have skyrocketed. According to unpublished Border Patrol data, there were more than 16,000 family members arrested in September — an 80 percent increase over July.
A Border Patrol official who was not authorized to speak publicly tells CBS News that agents at the border "are swamped," with more and more large groups crossing together. The official said on Sept. 20, Border Patrol encountered 275 adults and children. On Oct. 2, that number was 164 adults and children.
Oncorrespondent Lesley Stahl asked the president if he would return to his family separation policy.
"Frankly, when you don't do separation, when you allow the parents to stay together, OK, when you allow that, then what happens is people are going to pour into our country," he said.
"So are you going to go back to that?" Stahl asked.
"Well, we're looking at a lot of things," he said.
These caravans happen from time to time. The migrants travel in groups for safety. In April, several hundred made it to the U.S. border near San Diego, and a limited number were allowed to apply for asylum in the U.S.