Hundreds of migrants leave Mexico City
More continue to wait to resume trek toward U.S.
MEXICO CITY — About 900 Central American migrants headed out of Mexico City on Friday to embark on the longest and most dangerous leg of their journey to the U.S. border, while thousands more were waiting one more day at a massive improvised shelter.
The group that got a head start bundled their few possessions and started off, taking a subway to the north part of the city and then hiking down an expressway with a police escort.
Carlos Castanaza, a 29-year-old plumber from Guatemala City, wrapped himself from head to toe in a blanket against the cold.
Deported for driving without a license after a decade working in Connecticut, Castanaza was desperate to get back to his two U.s.-born children. “I’ve been wanting to get back for more than a year, but I couldn’t until the caravan came through,” he said. “That’s why I joined the caravan.”
The group hoped to reach Queretaro, about 105 miles to the northwest, by nightfall.
Meanwhile, at least 4,000 migrants milled around the massive shelter improvised at a Mexico City sports complex.
Ninety percent of the remaining migrants will depart the stadium early Saturday on their long trek to Tijuana, first taking the subway to the northern exit from Mexico’s capital, according to Nashieli Ramirez, director of Mexico’s Human Rights Commission.
From there, they will pass through the Mexican cities of Queretaro, Guadalajara, Culiacan and Hermosillo on their way to the U.S. border, Ramirez said, adding that 400 migrants had chosen to stay in Mexico City.
The governor of Queretaro state, Francisco Dominguez, said the migrants would stay at Corregidora stadium in the state’s capital and that authorities were ready to host 4,000 people.
Caravan coordinator Milton Benitez said officials had offered them buses for women and children but organizers demanded that they be for everyone. By Friday, the migrants said they were so angry at the U.N.’S lack of help that they no longer wanted U.N. observers with the caravan.
The United Nations on Friday denied the offer, releasing a statement saying its agencies “are unable to provide the transportation demanded by some members of the caravan.”
Mexico has offered refuge, asylum or work visas to the migrants, and its 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.
On Wednesday, a bus left from Mexico City to return 37 people to their countries of origin.
But many want to continue on toward the United States.
The Associated Press A Central American migrant bypasses a subway turnstile after leaving the temporary shelter in Mexico City on Friday. About900 migrants on Friday embarked on the longest and most dangerous leg of their journey toward the U.S. border.