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US and Mexican authorities must stop demonizing participants of the caravan from Central America and respect their fundamental right to seek asylum, said Amnesty International today, ahead of their expected arrival at the border between both countries later this week.

“Seeking asylum is not a crime in the USA or anywhere. The efforts of US officials to tarnish asylum seekers as criminals are cynical fabrications that ring hollow,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International.

“Threatening to indefinitely detain, prosecute, and deport these asylum seekers is a cruel effort to stigmatize, terrify and push away traumatized people, many of whom have already given up everything to flee desperate circumstances in their home countries.”

Amnesty International has received reports that in recent days Mexican immigration officials have detained and sought to deport Central American families from the caravan who planned to claim asylum in the USA. Amnesty is planning to have researchers on site to track potential human rights violations.

On April 23, the US Department of Homeland Security also issued a vindictive statement calling the asylum seekers from the caravan criminals and threatening to detain them indefinitely until they could send them back to their countries of origin.

President Trump has cited the caravan as his motive for deploying the National Guard along the border with Mexico.