Published: Wed, October 24, 2018
Global | By Enrique Rogers

Migrant caravan swells to 5,000, resumes advance toward US

Migrant caravan swells to 5,000, resumes advance toward US

Hundreds of Mexican police thwarted that effort to breach the Mexican border - an action praised by President Donald Trump, who has labeled the migrants a threat to U.S. security and said he would call out the U.S. military should the migrants make it to the U.S. -Mexico border area.

The day before, the Mexican authorities opened the border to women and children who were then taken to a shelter in the city of Tapachula, about 40km from Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico.

Children of Central American migrants, part of a caravan trying to reach the USA, wait with their parents to apply for asylum in Mexico at a checkpoint in Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico, October 20, 2018.

President Trump claims that solving the border crisis is "far more important" than new developments with global trade deals, including the revamp of the 24-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which has now been dubbed the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) in its rebirth.

Early Thursday he tweeted: "I must, in the strongest of terms, ask Mexico to stop this onslaught - and if unable to do so I will call up the U.S. Military and CLOSE OUR SOUTHERN BORDER!"

He predicted that, like the caravan in April, Mexico will respond with measures like granting asylum to some migrants who qualify while deporting others who don't, perhaps not eliminating the caravan entirely but significantly reducing its size before it reaches the US border.

Hundreds of migrants have reportedly applied for refugee status in Mexico in Ciudad Hidalgo.

Thousands of Honduran migrants hoping to reach the USA stretched out on rain-soaked sidewalks, benches and public plazas in the southern Mexico city of Tapachula, worn down by another day's march under a blazing sun.

Jose Ramon Rodriguez, 45, a construction worker from El Progreso, sat on the Guatemalan end of the bridge late on Friday with his head hanging low, his 9-year-old son tucked against him.

"We are one group", he said.

A business administration graduate, Lopez said she couldn't find work back home and hopes to reach the United States, but would stay in Mexico if she could find employment here.

Dozens of Mexican police in riot gear fired tear gas to force them to retreat into no-man's land after being attacked with stones.

Pompeo said he and Videgaray spoke of the importance of stopping the caravan before it reaches the US border.

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An additional statement from the Mexican government said there were 2,200 migrants remaining on the bridge connecting Guatemala and Mexico, and about 900 tried to cross into Mexico illegally.

Jesus Valdivia, of Tuxtla Chico, Mexico, was one of the many who pulled his pickup truck over to let 10 or even 20 migrants hop in at a time, sometimes causing vehicles' springs to groan under the weight.

Numerous migrants temporarily broke through barriers on a bridge which crosses the river border between Guatemala and Mexico.

Some 2,000 Honduran migrants were already back home after giving up on continuing to Mexico, Guatemala's President Jimmy Morales said at midday press conference in Guatemala City alongside his Honduran counterpart, President Juan Orlando Hernandez.

Some migrants at the Suchiate River border crossing, seized with uncertainty about their next moves, questioned whether so many had turned back.

Some 3,000 Central American migrants prepared to cross into Mexico from Guatemala on Friday with hopes of eventually arriving to the United States.

An unidentified police officer told Reuters there were no orders to block the caravan.

"Our dream is to build solidarity bridges among peoples and turn down border walls imposed by greed", they said.

The caravan left San Pedro Sula in northern Honduras more than a week ago.

While other caravans have generally withered as they have progressed north, this one has grown, perhaps in part as a result of all the media attention it has received.

In another tweet, he said the migrants would not be allowed into the United States.

But Jose Porfirio Orellana, a 47-year-old farmer from Yoro province in Honduras, said he has his sights set on the United States due to woeful economic conditions in his country. They were not detained by the authorities upon crossing the border.

Mr. Trump, who has for days now blasted Democrats and the United States' immigration laws over the caravan, also warned, without citing evidence, that "unknown Middle Easterners" and "criminals" are mixed into the caravan of people heading towards the United States' southern border.

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