Central American migrants in Mexico determined to go to US border
Mexico City authorities say that of the 4,841 registered migrants receiving shelter in a sports complex, 1,726 are under the age of 18, including 310 children under five.
Central American migrants taking part in a caravan towards the US, queue for food at a shelter set up at the Sports City in Mexico City on November 8, 2018. (AFP)
Central American migrants in a caravan that has stopped in Mexico City were determined on Thursday to go to the US border, and have asked for buses to transport them, saying it is too cold and dangerous to continue walking and hitchhiking.
The Mexican government has said most of the migrants have refused offers to stay in Mexico, and only a small number have agreed to return to their home countries.
About 85 percent of the migrants are from Honduras, while others are from the Central American countries of Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua.
TRT World‘s Ediz Tiyansan brings the latest from Mexico City.
“We need buses”
“We need buses to continue travelling,” said Milton Benitez, a caravan coordinator. Benitez noted that It would be colder in northern Mexico and it wasn’t safe for the migrants to continue along highways, where drug cartels frequently operate.
He said the route and departure time would be decided at a meeting Thursday night.
Mexico City is more than 600 miles from the nearest US border crossing at McAllen, Texas, and a previous caravan in the spring opted for a much longer route to Tijuana in the far northwest, across from San Diego.
The government said 2,697 temporary visas had been issued to individuals and families to cover them while they wait for the 45-day application process for a more permanent status.
During the recent US midterm elections, US President Donald Trump had converted the migrants into a campaign issue, portraying them as a major threat.
Nashieli Ramirez, president of Mexico City’s Human Rights Commission said that the Mexican government has a duty to assist the migrants.
In the stadium, hundreds of Mexico City employees and even more volunteers helped sort donations and direct migrants toward food, water, diapers and other basics.
Migrants searched through piles of donated clothes and grabbed boxes of milk for children.
A group of Central American migrants, representing the thousands participating in a caravan trying to reach the U.S. border, undertake an hours-long march to the office of the United Nations’ humans rights body in Mexico City, Thursday, November 8, 2018. (AP)
There have already been reports of migrants on the caravan going missing, though that is often because they hitch rides on trucks that turn off on different routes, leaving them lost.
However, the UN human rights agency said its office in Mexico had filed a report with prosecutors in the central state of Puebla about two buses that migrants boarded in the last leg of the trip to Mexico City early this week, and whose whereabouts are not known.
That caravan steadily dwindled to only about 200 people by the time it reached the border.
Fuentes warned the migrants that if they are separated from their children they should “say they want a lawyer and not sign any paper.”
Other activists and officials explained the options available to migrants in Mexico, which has offered them refuge, asylum or work visas.
Christopher Gascon, the Mexico representative for the International Organization for Migration, estimated there are perhaps another 4,000 in caravans that are working their way through southern Mexico.
But some migrants had been visiting the organisation’s tent asking about how they can return home.
On Wednesday night, a bus left from Mexico City to return 37 people to their countries of origin.