A caravan of Central American immigrants headed for the U.S. through Mexico “is not getting in,” Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen vowed on Sunday.
“My general message to this caravan is: Do not come,” Nielsen told “Fox News Sunday.” “You will not be allowed in.”
“There is a right way to immigrate to the United States,” she added, “and this is not it.”
Since its formation, the caravan has reportedly swelled to more than 7,000 people. But its size is nothing new, Nielsen said.
“We have a crisis at the border right now … [and] this caravan is one iteration of that,” Nielsen said. “Frankly, we essentially see caravans every day with these numbers.”
The Mexican government has already offered some caravan members asylum, Nielsen said. She directed those wishing to emigrate from their home countries to settle there.
“Mexico has offered them asylum — in some cases, they have refused. Mexico has offered them work permits — in some cases, they have refused,” Nielsen said. “What the president and I are both saying … is, ‘If you seek asylum, do so in that country.’”
She went on to outline the ways asylum is different from other means of immigration — reasons why, she said, caravan members should not continue to the U.S. border.
“Mexico has offered you refuge. If you want a job, that is not asylum. If you want to be reunited with your family, that is not asylum. If you want to just come live in the United States, that is not asylum,” she said. “There are legal ways to do that, but this is about the rule of law.”
Like President Donald Trump, Nielsen also made indirect reference to the possibility that the caravan might include terrorists — an assertion that has yet to be backed by evidence.
“I cannot tell you as secretary of Homeland Security that I know everybody in this flow,” Nielsen said. “What I do know is that we stop 3,000 people a year who have travel patterns similar to terrorists from attempting to come in the southwest border. And, as you know, in general we stop across the United States … terrorists every day.”