Mi­grant car­a­van ex­its Mex­ico City for U.S.

Chicago Tribune (Sunday) - - NATION & WORLD - By Christo­pher Sher­man

MEX­ICO CITY — Thou­sands of Cen­tral Amer­i­can mi­grants were back on the move to­ward the U.S. bor­der Satur­day, af­ter ded­i­cated Mex­ico City metro trains whisked them to the out­skirts of the cap­i­tal and driv­ers be­gan of­fer­ing rides north.

At the Line 2 ter­mi­nus, mi­grants be­gan mak­ing their way to a main high­way to re­sume walk­ing and hitch­hik­ing with the tacit ap­proval of Mex­i­can of­fi­cials.

Near a ma­jor toll plaza about 19 miles north of the city, Mex­ico state po­lice and hu­man rights of­fi­cials helped load men, women and chil­dren onto 18wheel­ers and asked pass­ing buses and trucks if they would carry mi­grants.

Maria Ye­se­nia Perez, 41, of La Ceiba, Hon­duras, who left nearly a month ago with her 8-year-old daugh­ter, said she was pre­pared to wait to gain en­try at the U.S. bor­der.

“I de­cided to come (with the car­a­van) to help my fam­ily,” she said, be­fore she and her daugh­ter were hoisted onto the back of a semi­trailer.

Perez is now one of roughly 4,000 mi­grants who plan to pro­ceed to the city of Quere­taro — a state cap­i­tal 124 miles to the north­west — and then pos­si­bly to Guadala­jara, Cu­li­a­can, Her­mosillo and even­tu­ally Ti­juana on the U.S. bor­der.

Whereas mi­grants like her car­ried tiny knap­sacks with bare es­sen­tials in Mex­ico’s trop­i­cal south, how­ever, their be­long­ings swelled no­tice­ably af­ter a mul­ti­day stop in Mex­ico City.

Many are now haul­ing bun­dles of blan­kets, sleep­ing bags and heavy cloth­ing to pro­tect against colder tem­per­a­tures in the north­ern part of the coun­try.

Some left the cap­i­tal with bot­tles of water and clear plas­tic bags of ba­nanas and or­anges for the long trek.

Oth­ers were given juice and ham sand­wiches from vol­un­teers as they set out.

Astrid Daniela Aguilar, who was trav­el­ing with two cousins age 3 and 4, lined up along­side the high­way to await a chance at hitch­ing a ride.

“You can’t find work there,” she said of her home coun­try of Hon­duras.

The car­a­van be­came a cam­paign is­sue in U.S. midterm elec­tions and Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has or­dered the de­ploy­ment of over 5,000 mil­i­tary troops to the bor­der to fend off the mi­grants.

Many mi­grants say they are flee­ing poverty, gang vi­o­lence and po­lit­i­cal in­sta­bil­ity pri­mar­ily in the Cen­tral Amer­i­can coun­tries of Hon­duras, Gu­atemala, El Sal­vador and Nicaragua, and they have now been on the road for weeks.

Mex­ico City is more than 600 miles from the near­est U.S. bor­der cross­ing at McAllen, Texas, but the area around the Mex­i­can bor­der cities of Reynosa, Mata­moros and Nuevo Laredo is rife with drug gangs, and the mi­grants con­sider it too risky.

Mi­grants are now tak­ing a still per­ilous, but some­what safer and longer route to Ti­juana in Mex­ico’s far north­west, across from San Diego.

AL­FREDO ESTRELLA/GETTY-AFP

Mi­grants from poor Cen­tral Amer­i­can coun­tries seek es­cape from vi­o­lence in the U.S.

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