Thousands of migrants stream into Mexico City
THOUSANDS of Central Americans dreaming of getting to the United States streamed into Mexico’s capital and bedded down in a sports stadium on the eve of U.S. midterm elections in which President Donald Trump has made the migrant caravan a central issue.
Authorities counted more than 2,000 migrants entering the Jesus Martinez stadium by midafternoon Monday, and a steady flow continued into the night. The facility has a capacity to hold 6,000, officials said, and four big tents set up for sleeping filled up.
Still hundreds of miles from the U.S. border, early arrivals eagerly sifted through donated clothes, gave themselves sponge baths and ate chicken and rice. They then picked up thin mattresses to hunker down for the night. Much in demand were blankets to ward off the chill in a city more than 7,300 feet (2,240 meters) above sea level, a big change after trudging for three weeks in tropical heat.
Nashieli Ramirez, ombudsman for the local human rights commission, said the city was preparing to accommodate as many as 5,000 people. The lead caravan is estimated to have about 4,000 participants and several smaller groups are trailing hundreds of miles to the south.
“We have the space in terms of humanitarian help,” Ramirez said.
Many of the migrants sought treatment for blistered and aching feet, illness and other maladies. “Since we got here, we have not stopped,” said Tania Escobar, a nurse with Mexico City’s public health department at the treatment tent.
Melvin Figueroa, a 32-year-old from Tegucigalpa, Honduras, was with his pregnant wife and two children, 6 and 8. He took the 6-year-old girl to the tent because her eyes were irritated and “she throws up everything she eats.” More migrants were trudging along the highway between the city of Puebla and the capital, trying to hitch rides from passing vehicles.
Trump has seized on the caravan and portrayed it as a major threat, even though such caravans have happened regularly over the years and largely passed unnoticed. He ordered thousands of troops to the US - Mexico border when the migrants were still hundreds of miles to the south, threatened to detain asylum seekers in tents cities and has insinuated without proof that there are criminals or even terrorists in the group.
In dozens of interviews since the initial caravan set out from Honduras more than three weeks ago, migrants have said they are escaping rampant poverty and violence. Many are families traveling with small children. Some say they left because they were threatened by gang members or had lost relatives to gang violence. Others say they hope to work, secure a good education for their children and send money to support loved ones back home. – AP
Central American migrants begin their morning trek as part of a thousands-strong caravan hoping to reach the U.S. border, as they face the Pico de Orizaba volcano upon departure from Cordoba, Veracruz state, Mexico on Monday.