Migrant caravan exits Mexico City for U.S.
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.
Migrants from poor Central American countries seek escape from violence in the U.S.