The biggest migrant caravan since the start of the pandemic heading toward the U.S. border has ballooned up to as many as 5,000 people – including 1,200 minors – in Southern Mexico, with children and adults beginning to feel the effects of the 13,000-mile journey.
Doctors have so far treated at least 15 children and 12 adults for pneumonia, Univision reported. Doctors and nurses have also been treating migrants for foot injuries caused by the long-distance walks.
Though still significantly smaller than caravans in 2018 and 2019, this is the biggest group moving through southern Mexico since the pandemic started early last year. The caravan’s slow movement across Mexico comes as President Joe Biden has been facing increasing criticism over the high levels of migration, which comes amid widespread violence and growing hunger in Central America and parts of the Caribbean.
The Institute of National Migration said Wednesday that a young boy from El Salvador in Huixtla, Chiapas, was rushed by ambulance to Huixtla General Hospital after he suffered a leg wound from contact with a sharp object.
Two migrant women from Honduras and Cuba were treated for dehydration, dyspnea and heat stroke after falling ill while marching from Huixtla to Villa Comaltitlán.
The group consisting of Africans, Haitians, Central Americans and South Americans left Villa Comaltitlán on Thursday before dawn for a 10-mile foot trek to Escuintla, but their pace has been slightly hampered by the presence of 1,200 minors.
Migrants resume their journey to the United States on Thursday along a highway in Villa Comaltitlán, Chiapas, toward the municipality of Escuintla
The majority of the latest caravan are families with young children, according to a witness who saw migrants gathered on Tuesday. According to Univision, 15 children and 12 adults for pneumonia
A migrant who joined a caravan of at least 5,000 people pushes a stroller along the highway toward Escuintla, Chiapas, on Thursday
Tired of waiting for the Mexican government to legalize their stay in the country, an estimated 2,000 migrants left Chiapa’s southernmost city of Tapachula, which borders with Guatemala, on Saturday.
The anticipated influx comes amid a continued row over migration after President Joe Biden reversed many anti-immigration policies that were set in place by former President Donald Trump, leading to a surge at the borders.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) data shows that encounters with migrants for unlawful entry to the United States increased in Trump’s last eight full months in office and continued to swell after Biden stepped into the White House.
While the caravan is challenging to count, it appeared significantly larger when it left Huixtla after a day of rest and its leaders initially estimated its size at 4,000. It reached the town of Villa Comaltitlán on Wednesday.
In Texas, about 1,000 state police officers and Texas Rangers have been assigned to monitor the border, readying to guard against the surge.
A month has passed since Texas state law enforcement agents played a role in preventing some 15,000 migrants – mostly Haitians – from crossing the United States-Mexico border.
migrant caravan since the start of the pandemic heading toward the U.S. border has ballooned up to as many as 5,000 people – including 1,200 minors – in Southern Mexico, with children and adults beginning to feel the effects of the 13,000-mile journey
The current migrant caravan, with as many as 5,000 people from Africa, Haiti, Central American and South American is said to be the biggest in Mexico since the start of the pandemic. Migrants are marching towards Mexico City to appeal to the government for asylum and to seek a permit that will allow to freely transit through the country and reach the U.S. border
The state troopers and Rangers would be expected to do the same in the coming days, but with this smaller caravan of migrants predominantly led by Central Americans that is marching through southern Mexico toward the United States.
‘The caravan is like a magnet, it goes sucking up people, migrants who had been in the towns (of coastal Chiapas) are joining,’ said Irineo Mújica, an immigration activist with the organization People without Borders.
One of them was Bayron Zavala, a Nicaraguan migrant, who – hearing that the caravan was advancing slowly – got on a bicycle and caught up with them in Huixtla.
He said he would walk with them ‘as far as God gives us the strength… if possible, continue to the United States.’
Without any issue, the migrants passed a customs, immigration and military checkpoint where authorities typically seize drugs and look for human smugglers.
‘We haven’t had any problems with immigration officials. God is opening doors for us,’ said Julio Gonzalez, a hopeful Honduran migrant who spent Tuesday night sleeping near a street in Huixtla with his wife and two children under a steady rain.
The biggest migrant caravan since the start of the pandemic is heading towards the US, pictured Wednesday
In January, a caravan left Honduras, but authorities in Guatemala broke it up.
Other groups that have walked out of Tapachula this year have numbered in the hundreds. At least three were were dissolved by Mexican authorities, sometimes with excessive force in late August and early September.
Those groups were composed mostly of Haitian migrants.
The National Guard has not tried to intervene since it attempted to keep the migrants from Tapachula on Saturday. There were scuffles and a child was injured.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights called on the Mexican government to investigate immigration agents who had beaten a young boy earlier this week.
‘The use of force must be governed by principles of legitimate purpose, absolute necessity, proportionality and progressiveness. The states must investigate, prosecute, punish and fully compensate the #MigrantPeople for violations of their #HumanRights,’ the human rights organization said.
Migrants heading in a caravan to the US, walk towards Mexico City to request asylum and refugee status (pictured on Wednesday)
Foreign Affairs Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said Monday the government would act ‘prudently,’ respecting the law and human rights.
Mexico has deployed thousands of soldiers, police and immigration agents in the south and in recent years no large groups have made it out of the states bordering Guatemala.
Even so, entire families keep trying. Cristina Romero wants to make it to the United States to seek treatment for her 12-year-old son who suffers from a developmental delay.
The caravan’s slow movement across Mexico comes as U.S. President Joe Biden has been facing increasing criticism
The crowd of mostly Central Americans are trekking across southern Mexico but their journey has been hampered by the large number of children in their group
Migrants rest in a sports court in Villa Comaltitlán as they take part in a caravan heading to Mexico City
Alison, a four-year-old Honduran girl who is sick with fever, holds a lollypop as her father carries her
Biden expands list of places ICE is banned from making arrests
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Sec. Alejandro Mayorkas expanded the list of ‘sensitive locations’ where immigration officers are banned from making arrests.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers have long been banned from making arrests in hospital and school settings, but now they will be asked to refrain from doing so at places of worship, places where children gather such as playgrounds, rec centers and bus stops and social service buildings such as domestic violence and homeless shelters.
Officers are also to avoid arrests at public demonstrations such as protests or parades, and during religious or civil ceremonies such as weddings or funerals.
The guidance also asks agents to reconsider enforcement actions ‘near’ such protected locations.
Romero had applied for asylum in Mexico, but after waiting four months the answer came back negative. ‘They told me I could appeal the case, but that it could come out the same,’ she said. ‘Then I heard about this caravan and I was up for coming.’
In Villa Comaltitlán, some migrants told Reuters they sought to rest before departing early Thursday morning, which was especially important due to the large number of young children with them.
The latest migrant caravan has not yet faced off with Mexican migration agents or soldiers who have increasingly used tough tactics to stem the tide of fleeing migrants, many of whom want to escape violent gangs and grinding joblessness back home.
The United States has registered record levels of migration this year, as border agents have apprehended or expelled more than 1.7 million migrants over the past 12 months.
The majority of the latest caravan are families with young children, according to a witness who saw migrants gathered on Tuesday.
Among them was Arleth Chavez from Guatemala, who had walked with the caravan for about 28 miles since it departed the southern border city of Tapachula over the weekend.
‘My feet are burning and in pain from the blisters,’ said Chavez, who nonetheless expressed a determination to continue.
Migrants have denounced the lengthy asylum process in Tapachula, located near Mexico’s border with Guatemala, and thousands have departed the city in a series of caravans this year, including many Haitians.
Mexico’s immigration agency INM said in a statement on Wednesday that some families in the caravan had asked to be returned to Tapachula, but did not provide numbers.
Many members of the caravan aim to reach Mexico City, where they hope the asylum process might be faster, while others say they seek to make it to the United States.
The U.S. government has put pressure on Mexico to contain migrants before reaching the U.S. border, and Mexican authorities have obliged by beefing up patrols
Though still significantly smaller than caravans in 2018 and 2019, this is the biggest group moving through southern Mexico since the pandemic started early last year
About 2,000 migrants had walked out of the southern city of Tapachula near the Guatemala border on Saturday
While the multitude is challenging to count, it appeared significantly larger when it left Huixtla (pictured) after a day of rest
This caravan is primarily made up of Central Americans and departed from the Mexican municipality of Tapachula
The latest migrant caravan has not yet faced off with Mexican migration agents or soldiers
The United States has registered record levels of migration this year, as border agents have apprehended or expelled more than 1.7 million migrants