Some mi­grants in car­a­van head for Ti­juana

Most re­main in Mex­ico City, while oth­ers con­tinue to­ward U.S. bor­der.

Los Angeles Times - - THE WORLD - By Patrick J. Mc­Don­nell patrick.mc­don­nell @la­times.com Spe­cial cor­re­spon­dents Lil­iana Ni­eto del Rio and Ce­cilia Sanchez con­tributed to this re­port.

MEX­ICO CITY — Some mem­bers of the car­a­van of Cen­tral Amer­i­can mi­grants that has drawn the ire of Pres­i­dent Trump be­gan leav­ing Mex­ico City early Fri­day, split­ting from the main group and head­ing for their ul­ti­mate des­ti­na­tion — the U.S.-Mex­ico bor­der — still hun­dreds of miles away.

But most of the 5,500 car­a­van par­tic­i­pants re­mained in the Mex­i­can cap­i­tal and were plan­ning to leave on Sat­ur­day. Some said they in­tended to travel to Ti­juana, more than 1,700 miles to the north­west, but it was not clear whether all planned to travel to the city across the bor­der from San Diego.

“I’m leav­ing to­mor­row be­cause I don’t want to stay here any longer, I want to go to the north,” Fran­cisco Ramos, 21, a ci­ti­zen of Hon­duras, said Fri­day at the sprawl­ing sports com­plex in the cap­i­tal that has been hous­ing the mi­grants. “Here we are just wast­ing our time and spend­ing the lit­tle money that we have.”

Part of the at­trac­tion of Ti­juana is its prox­im­ity to Cal­i­for­nia, where many car­a­van trav­el­ers have rel­a­tives or friends. “Peo­ple tell us that Cal­i­for­nia is the best place, be­cause they treat mi­grants well there,” said Carla So­lis, 28, who is trav­el­ing with two younger broth­ers.

The car­a­van’s next planned stop af­ter leav­ing the Mex­i­can cap­i­tal is the city of Quere­taro, some 135 miles to the north­west, where of­fi­cials were ready­ing shel­ter space for the mi­grants’ an­tic­i­pated ar­rival.

Thou­sands of mi­grants, mostly from Hon­duras, have spent days at the sports fa­cil­ity next to Mex­ico City’s air­port, where city of­fi­cials and var­i­ous aid groups have been pro­vid­ing food, med­i­cal treat­ment, le­gal ad­vice and other ser­vices, in­clud­ing en­ter­tain­ment from

clowns and wrestlers. The stop was a chance for many to rest and re­cu­per­ate af­ter weeks on the road from Cen­tral Amer­ica.

By Thurs­day, of­fi­cials said some 5,500 mi­grants were en­camped at the sports cen­ter, sleep­ing in tents, in the grand­stands and on fields. Most are young men, but women and chil­dren are also in the group.

Many re­tain hopes that free bus ser­vice would be pro­vided to trans­port them north.

Trump has de­ployed thou­sands of troops along the U.S.-Mex­ico bor­der and vowed that the mi­grants would not be al­lowed into the United States. He used the car­a­van as a cam­paign is­sue lead­ing up to Tues­day’s midterm elec­tion.

And Thurs­day, the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion an­nounced it was plan­ning to tighten pro­ce­dures for for­eign­ers seek­ing po­lit­i­cal asy­lum in the United States.

Many if not most of the car­a­van mem­bers are ex­pected to re­quest asy­lum, cit­ing fear of re­turn­ing to their home­lands be­cause of per­va­sive vi­o­lence.

In re­cent days, lawyers and other ex­perts have been pro­vid­ing guid­ance on U.S. asy­lum laws to car­a­van mem­bers at the sta­dium in Mex­ico City. They were ad­vised that poverty and gen­er­al­ized fear of crime were not grounds for asy­lum un­der U.S. law, which pro­vides the pos­si­bil­ity of refuge for some for­eign na­tion­als flee­ing per­se­cu­tion.

While some car­a­van mem­bers have re­turned home to Cen­tral Amer­ica, and oth­ers ap­plied for refugee sta­tus in Mex­ico, most have stuck with the group as it headed north.

Two other car­a­vans, with some 3,000 peo­ple com­bined, are fol­low­ing the path of the ini­tial group through south­ern Mex­ico and are ex­pected to reach Mex­ico City in the com­ing days.

Ro­drigo Abd As­so­ci­ated Press

CEN­TRAL AMER­I­CANS who are part of the main car­a­van walk­ing north through Mex­ico ride a sub­way in the cap­i­tal af­ter leav­ing a tem­po­rary shel­ter at a sta­dium nearby, where 5,500 peo­ple have been camp­ing.

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