Thousands of Migrants Enter Mexico Seeking Way to US

22 October, 2018

A large group of mostly Honduran migrants has crossed Guatemala and is entering Mexico in an effort to reach the United States.

U.S. President Donald Trump has warned the group not to seek to cross the U.S.-Mexico border.

On Sunday, the group [that] some are calling a caravan, arrived at the Mexican border city of Tapachula and set up small camps under heavy rain.

People in the caravan walked for hours from the Guatemalan border. They did not listen to police offers to take buses to a shelter because they were afraid they would be expelled from the country.

Central American migrants line up at a bridge that connects Guatemala to Mexico.
Central American migrants line up at a bridge that connects Guatemala to Mexico.

The migrants have continued to walk despite warnings from Mexico. The government has said the migrants will be expelled if they cannot justify seeking asylum in Mexico.

On Sunday, Trump said on Twitter that "full efforts are being made to stop" the caravan. He said migrants must ask for asylum in Mexico before seeking entry into the U.S.

In southern Mexico, police with riot equipment followed the large group but did not try to stop it.

Roger Pineda, a 16-year-old Honduran, was in the caravan.

He said, "I just want to find some food and a place to sleep." He said he joined the group last week with five family members and a group of friends from the violent city of San Pedro Sula.

He added, "I hope Trump allows us to make it to the other side."

In Guatemala, local media reported that about 1,000 migrants were traveling north to the Mexican border.

A large group of people marched Sunday as a military helicopter circled overhead. Many migrants said they were fleeing violence, poverty and corruption in Central America.

Most said they felt safer walking in a large group.

"We're going to make it, we're going to keep moving so long as they don't stop us," said 17-year-old Honduran Jaffe Borjas. He was walking with a childhood friend at the head of the group that stretched far down the highway.

Traveling in dangerous conditions

Reuters news service reports that Mexican President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has supported the caravan. He promised to provide people with work permits in a speech to supporters in Tuxtla-Gutierrez, about 290 km north of Tapachula.

"I want to tell them they can count on us," he added.

The Mexican president-elect will take office in December.

He also said that he is seeking Trump's support for a development plan that could reduce poverty in Central America and southern Mexico.

Trump has threatened to stop aid to Honduras and Guatemala if those countries do not stop migrants from crossing their borders. He also has said he would close the U.S.-Mexico border with the help of the military if the caravan is not stopped.

Mexico's government has said during the past week that it would register the migrants and process requests for asylum. Those who do not register would be deported, it said. However, the large size of the caravan will test Mexico. The country has asked for help from the United Nations to deal with the issue.

The wife of Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez, Ana Garcia de Hernandez, leads a migrant aid group. Her group said that more than 3,400 Honduran migrants had been returned to their home country recently.

She said in a statement: "We're urging people against migrating in an unlawful way and putting your children in extremely dangerous conditions."

The Honduran government has also blamed the political opposition for encouraging people to leave.

Mexican immigration officials said they had allowed about 1,028 migrants through the official border crossing in Ciudad Hidalgo over the past three days.

I'm Susan Shand.

Reuters reported this story. Susan Shand adapted it for Learning English. The editor was Ashley Thompson.

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Words in This Story

caravann.a group of people or animals traveling together on a long journey

despite – prep.without being prevented by something

childhood n. the time in a life before adulthood

encourage – v. to make someone more determined, hopeful, or confident