Only about 1700 of the estimated 7,000 Central American refugees in a caravan heading to the U.S. border have accepted an offer from the Mexican government for asylum. The rest, now about 1,000 miles from the U.S. border, are continuing on their way.
The Mexican offer of asylum seems fairly substantial.
"Today, Mexico extends you its hand," President Peña Nieto said.
But he added: "This plan is only for those who comply with Mexican laws, and it's a first step towards a permanent solution for those who are granted refugee status in Mexico."
The plan envisages:
- Temporary ID cards and work permits
- Medical care
- Schooling for migrants' children
- Housing in local hostels
But President Peña Nieto failed to explain what would happen to the migrants if they chose to carry on regardless.
What's going to happen is that the Trump administration will stop them. They are being goaded -- or directed -- to deliberately violate the laws of the U.S. Trump says this will not stand.
There is a legal obligation under international law to hear asylum claims from migrants who have arrived in the US if they say they fear violence in their home countries.
But in June, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that victims of domestic abuse and gang violence would no longer generally qualify for asylum in the US.
Those seeking asylum must be fleeing due to a serious fear of persecution in their home country. Under international law, these are considered refugees.
If an asylum seeker enters the US illegally, they are still entitled to have their claim heard.
Economic migrants are those seeking a better quality of life - and even if they are fleeing devastating poverty, they are not considered refugees and do not have the same protections.
There is no doubt the migrants are fleeing poverty and violence. So why not accept Mexico's generous offer of asylum and benefits?
Seven thousand people do not simply get up and start on the road toward America. Someone is trying to make a political statement using the refugees as both stage props and human shields. Why would those women and children who are supposed to make up the vast majority of the caravan subject their kids to another 1,000 miles of arduous walking when they could stop where they are and be taken care of by the Mexican government?