Harassment, health and fear shrink caravan
MAPASTEPEC, MEXICO » Little by little, sickness, fear and police harassment are whittling down the migrant caravan making its way to the U.S. border, with many of the 4,000 to 5,000 migrants who resumed their journey Thursday complaining of exhaustion.
The group, many with children and even pushing toddlers in strollers, departed Mapastepec at dawn withmore than 1,000 miles still to go before they reach the U.S. border.
They have advanced just 95 miles as the crow flies since thousands burst across Mexico’s southernmost border six days earlier.
With the migrants still weeks, if not months, from reaching the U. S. border, the U. S. administration was planning to send 800 or more troops to the southern border at the direction of President Donald Trump, who has been stoking fears about illegal immigration ahead of the Nov. 6 midterm elections.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis was expected to sign an order as early as Thursday authorizing the additional troops to support the Border Patrol, according to a U. S. official, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the details because the details had not yet been finalized and spoke on condition of anonymity.
On Thursday, the long column of migrants stretched for more than a mile as they left the town square in Mapastepac in far southern Mexico, where many spent the night. The municipality of some 45,000 people, along with churches and volunteers, offered some medicine and donated water, clothing baby formula and baby bottles.
As they reached the highway, families with young children packed sidewalks asking for donations and rides to the next stop, Pijijiapan, about 25 miles further ahead.
Melkin Claros, 34, was traveling with his 7-year old son and a teenage nephew and remained steadfast in his goal. “Everyone’s objective is to arrive (in the United States),” he said, adding that he planned to request asylum because gangs made it impossible to live in Honduras.
“It’s true you risk your life a lot here, but we risk more in our country.”
Still, Mexican of f icials say nearly 1,700 have dropped out of the caravan to apply for asylum in Mexico, and a few hundred have accepted government offers to bus them back to their home countries.
Central American migrants traveling with a caravan to the U.S. make their way to Pijijiapan, Mexico, on Thursday.