A caravan of some 2,000 immigrants — including hundreds of children — continued their trek toward the southern border of the United States after pushing past police over delays in getting refugee or asylum papers at a city in southern Mexico over the weekend.
Many in the crowd carried US flags or signs with President Biden’s name on them.
They arrived in Huixtla on Tuesday after three days of travel by foot along a highway from Tapachula, a city near the Guatemala border where their asylum claims were being processed by the Mexican government. The journey began in Central and South America.
Mexico, which requires migrants with humanitarian or asylum claims to wait in the border state of Chiapas for processing, did not make any moves to break up the group as it has in the past – sometimes by force.
The migrants paused in Huixtla – about 25 miles from Tapachula – to rest, seek medical attention for blistered feet, cool themselves and wash clothing in a nearby river before once again embarking on their journey to the US, hoping to reach Escuintla about 19 miles away.
Among them were Nitza Maldonado and Omar Rodriguez, a couple from Honduras, who were making their second trip to the US after being arrested in Texas and deported last year despite paying smugglers $12,000.
After losing their jobs during the coronavirus pandemic and facing unemployment and deep in debt from paying the coyotes, they decided to set out once again on their own and with their 6-year-old son in tow.
“You have to migrate because in our country there’s a lot of unemployment, there’s no education,” Maldonado told the Associated Press. “That’s why this is happening to us.”
They have been sleeping on the ground and eating one meal a day during their trek north.
Arleth Chavez of Guatemala walked with the caravan from Tapachula.
“My feet are burning and in pain from the blisters. I’ll make it as far as God permits,” he told Reuters.
Dayana Flores, 17, left Honduras with her husband Kevin Ortiz four months ago with their 20-day-baby.
They decided to try to make it to the US after waiting for weeks in Tapachula, lining up before dawn each day at the asylum office only to be turned away later in the day.
“Better to run the risk, maybe one can make it (to the U.S.), than to be there caged without work, without a place to work, without food, without anything,” Flores told the AP.
The new surge of migrants comes as the Biden administration is already struggling with an influx of migrants from Mexico, Central and South America, and Caribbean countries this year.
US Customs and Border Protection has reported encounters with 1.2 million immigrants this year.
Many of the migrants are hoping to reach Mexico City, where the asylum process might be faster, but others intend to continue on to the US.
Mexico has received 90,000 asylum applications as of September – with more than two-thirds coming from the Tapachula office.
With Post wires