by Jason Hopkins
A man in El Salvador was charged and jailed for promoting the formation of a U.S.-bound migrant caravan Thursday.
A court in El Salvador ordered Raúl Antonio Ventura to be held in jail Thursday for social media posts and telephone messages that encouraged people to congregate in San Salvador, the country’s capital city, in late January in order to form a caravan to the U.S., the Associated Press reported.
The man’s efforts appeared to be somewhat successful — roughly 50 individuals showed up at the intended location. Ventura’s posts instructed people on what to wear and what they should bring for their trek northward. Local authorities ultimately arrested him at the location of the intended meet-up point.
It’s still not immediately clear, however, how Ventura hoped to profit, if at all, from the scheme.
Ventura was slapped with immigrant human-trafficking charges, and a judge ruled that he must remain in custody until he is tried. He faces four to eight years in prison if convicted.
Caravans have become a popular way for migrants to travel without having to pony up the costs for an expensive human smuggler. The trek northward, filled with rough terrain and cartel gunmen looking to rob them, can be deadly for those who choose to take the journey. Paying smugglers a small fortune can provide them safety, but not everyone can afford to do so. Caravans, however, provide them safety with sheer numbers.
President Donald Trump, who has made immigration enforcement a top priority for his administration, has placed immense pressure on Mexico and Central American governments to halt the movement of caravans before they reach the U.S. southern border.
Currently, Mexican national guard troops are fending off a caravan of migrants held up on the Mexican-Gutemalan border. The clashes have become so aggressive that Mexican authorities were forced to fire tear gas onto an incoming crowd of migrants after they began hurling rocks. So far, Mexico has been successful at preventing the caravan from moving any farther north.
El Salvador, for its part, has also worked with the U.S. to prevent illegal immigration. The country’s leaders last year signed an asylum deal with the Trump administration, but implementation of that agreement has proven slow.
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Jason Hopkins is a reporter for the Daily Caller News Foundation.