Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen on Wednesday warned Central American migrants traveling in a caravan that they will be prosecuted if they try to cross the U.S. border illegally.
The caravan is reportedly planning to cross the U.S. border this weekend after traveling for weeks through Mexico.
Nielsen said in a statement that the Department of Homeland Security is watching the caravan’s movements and stressed that they will not be exempted from U.S. laws.
“Let me be clear: we will enforce the immigration laws as set forth by Congress,” she said, according to The Hill.
Nielsen warned that any attempts to aid or assist individuals crossing the border will also be met with stiff consequences.
“If you enter our country illegally, you have broken the law and will be referred for prosecution,” she said. “If you make a false immigration claim, you have broken the law and will be referred for prosecution. If you assist or coach an individual in making a false immigration claim, you have broken the law and will be referred for prosecution.”
Nielsen explained that asylum seekers should remain in the first country they entered after fleeing their home countries. Most of the migrants are escaping violence in Central America.
While Mexican authorities have broken up the caravan, it has continued north in smaller groups.
The DHS statement came as part of the caravan arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border near San Diego. The group — about 130 individuals, mostly women and children — is expected to attempt to cross into the U.S. on Sunday.
The caravan has drawn the ire of President Donald Trump, who on Monday called the U.S. “naive” and said he’d ordered Nielsen to block entry for the migrants hoping to gain access to the country.
Despite the Democrat inspired laws on Sanctuary Cities and the Border being so bad and one sided, I have instructed the Secretary of Homeland Security not to let these large Caravans of people into our Country. It is a disgrace. We are the only Country in the World so naive! WALL
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 23, 2018