Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Migrants’ caravan leaves Mexico City, bound for northern border

Thousands of Central Americans left Mexico City Thursday morning to continue their journey towards the United States border as President Donald Trump railed against past and present migrant caravans and continued to argue for his long-promised wall.

Authorities said that just under 2,400 migrants began leaving a sports stadium-cum-shelter at 4:30am to travel by subway to the north of the capital, where they were going to look for rides to Querétaro.

An additional 500 to 600 migrants remained in the shelter, waiting for humanitarian visas to be granted.

The National Immigration Institute (INM) said on Monday it had registered 15,582 requests for the visas and on Tuesday it reported that another 4,750 had been granted.

Since last October, thousands of Central Americans fleeing poverty and violence have entered Mexico as part of several migrant caravans, with most continuing to cities on the northern border, especially Tijuana.

There they remain stranded on the border, where they face long waits to lodge asylum requests with United States authorities.

Despite the likelihood that they too will have to wait for months or even years in cities with high rates of violent crime, members of the latest caravan are determined not to give up.

“I know it’s violent at the border, but I have to take that risk. I don’t have any more money and my family is waiting for me in the United States,” 27-year-old Honduran migrant María Murillo told the news agency Reuters.

Standing alongside her young son at the Mexico City shelter, she added: “Only God knows what we have gone through during all this time. I know that He is not going to abandon us.”

Another Honduran migrant, 33-year-old Óscar López, who is traveling with his wife and two children, said that he planned to go to Monterrey and then decide which section of the border to travel to.

“I’m not thinking of going to Tijuana . . . I want to find a more accessible border to hand myself and my family in [to United States immigration authorities]. I don’t want to be returned to Mexico,” he said.

On Tuesday, the United States government returned the first Central American asylum seeker to Mexico since a hardened immigration policy known as “Remain in Mexico” was introduced by the Trump administration.

Many migrants have expressed their opposition to the U.S. policy because they say that it will expose them to the kind of violence they are trying to escape back home. Other say that they will try to cross the border illegally, even if that means paying a smuggler.

“I’m not thinking of returning to Honduras, and if it’s necessary I’ll pay to have a [smuggler] help me cross,” said Mauricio Gómez, a young Honduran man.

A few hours after the migrants left Mexico City this morning, Trump took to Twitter to announce that United States authorities are preparing for their arrival.

“More troops being sent to the southern border to stop the attempted invasion of illegals, through large caravans, into our country. We have stopped the previous caravans, and we will stop these also. With a wall it would be so much easier and less expensive. Being built!” he wrote.

In other tweets today, he cited Mexico’s record 2018 homicide numbers, charging “this is a big contributor to the humanitarian crisis taking place on our southern border” and that the situation was worse than Afghanistan.

“Why wouldn’t any sane person want to build a wall! Construction has started and will not stop until it is finished,” Trump wrote.

Asked about the tweets this morning, President López Obrador said he respected Trump’s right to say what he wished but added, “I don’t want to say anything about that.”

Source: Reuters (sp) 

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