Car­a­van’s mi­grants weigh­ing op­tions at Mex­ico City stop

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - INTERNATIONAL - COM­PILED BY DEMO­CRAT-GAZETTE STAFF FROM WIRE RE­PORTS In­for­ma­tion for this ar­ti­cle was con­trib­uted by Maria Verza and Christo­pher Sher­man of The As­so­ci­ated Press; and by Dan Lamothe of The Wash­ing­ton Post.

MEX­ICO CITY — Cen­tral Amer­i­can mi­grants on Wed­nes­day con­tin­ued to strag­gle in for a rest stop at a Mex­ico City sta­dium, where about 4,500 con­tinue to weigh of­fers to stay in Mex­ico against the de­sire of many to reach the U.S. bor­der.

Mex­ico City of­fi­cials said they ex­pected as many as 1,000 more might ar­rive at the Je­sus Martinez sta­dium as lag­ging mem­bers of the car­a­van trail in, their jour­neys slowed by dif­fi­cul­ties in get­ting rides or by hop­ping aboard trucks that veered off their route.

An­gel Ed­uardo Cubas of La Ceiba, Hon­duras, reached the shel­ter early Wed­nes­day af­ter be­ing split off from the car­a­van. Like many mi­grants, he had to find his way back to the rel­a­tive safety of the car­a­van in an un­fa­mil­iar coun­try, with no money.

“There were a lot of peo­ple who got dropped off some­where else,” said Cubas, who at one point lost his two chil­dren, 2 and 6, be­fore find­ing them again. “It was ugly, go­ing around look­ing” for his kids, the 28-year-old fa­ther said.

Mem­bers of the car­a­vans of mi­grants, which Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump made a cen­tral is­sue in U.S. midterm elec­tions, de­clined to make an im­me­di­ate de­ci­sion Tues­day night on whether to stay in Mex­ico or con­tinue north, opt­ing to re­main in the cap­i­tal at least a cou­ple of more days.

“No­body is in more of a hurry than me to get go­ing [to the U.S. bor­der], but we have to go all to­gether,” said Sara Ro­driguez of Colon, Hon­duras.

Ro­driguez, 34, fled her coun­try with her 16-year-old daugh­ter Emily, af­ter the girl be­gan to draw un­wanted at­ten­tion from a drug traf­ficker who just got of prison and pledged to go af­ter her. Ro­driguez left her 7-year-old son with her hus­band in Hon­duras. “Even though it hurts to leave my son … I had to pro­tect her,” Ro­driguez said, weep­ing.

Mex­ico has of­fered refuge, asy­lum or work visas to the mi­grants and 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.

Sev­eral smaller groups were trail­ing hun­dreds of miles to the south; of­fi­cials es­ti­mated about 7,000 in all were in the coun­try in the car­a­vans.

Sep­a­rately, the Pen­tagon has di­rected U.S. mil­i­tary com­man­ders to stop call­ing the de­ploy­ment of ac­tive-duty troops to the south­ern bor­der “Op­er­a­tion Faith­ful Pa­triot,” a name de­rided by crit­ics as overtly po­lit­i­cal while Trump played up the mis­sion in stump­ing for Repub­li­can can­di­dates.

The de­ci­sion was ac­knowl­edged Wed­nes­day af­ter the midterm elec­tions, and it was not im­me­di­ately clear what name the mil­i­tary op­er­a­tion may ul­ti­mately take in­stead.

“We are no longer call­ing it Op­er­a­tion Faith­ful Pa­triot,” said a Pen­tagon spokesman, Army Lt. Col. Jamie Davis. “We are re­fer­ring to it as bor­der sup­port. I have noth­ing fur­ther at this time.”

A sec­ond Pen­tagon spokesman, Chris Sher­wood, said that sim­ply re­fer­ring to the mil­i­tary op­er­a­tion as “bor­der sup­port” is a “more ac­cu­rate de­scrip­tion” be­cause the De­part­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity is over­see­ing it. The news was first re­ported by The Wall Street Jour­nal, which said the direc­tive was is­sued by De­fense Sec­re­tary James Mat­tis’ of­fice on Elec­tion Day. He has sought to shield the mil­i­tary from pol­i­tics, with mixed re­sults.

The op­er­a­tion, an­nounced Oct. 29, is in sup­port of the De­part­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity and Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion. The Pen­tagon has sought to stress that it has only a sup­port role, while the pres­i­dent has sug­gested that the mil­i­tary will face the mi­grants at the bor­der.

AP/RO­DRIGO ABD

Cen­tral Amer­i­can mi­grants, part of a car­a­van of peo­ple head­ing north to­ward the U.S., rest Tues­day in the Je­sus Martinez sta­dium in Mex­ico City.

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