Mi­grant car­a­van de­parts Mex­ico City, heads north

Be­long­ings swell with ad­di­tions of blan­kets, fruit

The Republican Herald - - FRONT PAGE - BY CHRISTO­PHER SHER­MAN

MEX­ICO CITY — Thou­sands of Cen­tral Amer­i­can mi­grants were back on the move to­ward the U. S. bor­der Satur­day, af­ter ded­i­cated Mex­ico City metro trains whisked them to the out­skirts of the cap­i­tal and driv­ers be­gan of­fer­ing rides north.

At the Line 2 ter mi­nus, mi­grants be­gan mak­ing their way to a main high­way to re­sume walk­ing and hitch­hik­ing with the tacit ap­proval of Mex­i­can of­fi­cials.

Near a ma­jor toll plaza about 19 miles north of the city, Mex­ico state po­lice and hu­man rights of­fi­cials helped load men, women and chil­dren onto eigh­teen-wheel­ers and asked pass­ing buses and trucks if they would carry mi­grants.

Maria Ye­se­nia Perez, a 41- yearold who left La Ceiba, Hon­duras, nearly a month ago with her 8- year- old daugh­ter, said she was pre­pared to wait to gain en­try at the U. S. bor­der.

“I de­cided to come ( with the car­a­van) to help my fam­ily,” she said, be­fore she and her daugh­ter were hoisted onto the back of a semi­trailer.

Perez is now one of roughly 4,000 mi­grants who plan to pro­ceed to the City of Quere­taro — a state cap­i­tal 124 miles to the north­west — and then pos­si­bly to Guadala­jara, Cu­li­a­can, Her­mosillo and even­tu­ally Ti­juana on the U. S. bor­der.

Whereas mi­grants like her car­ried tiny knap­sacks with bare es­sen­tials in Mex­ico’s trop­i­cal south, how­ever, their be­long­ings swelled no­tice­ably af­ter a mul­ti­day stop in Mex­ico City.

Many are now haul­ing bun­dles of blan­kets, sleep­ing bags and heavy cloth­ing to pro­tect against

colder tem­per­a­tures in the north­ern part of the coun­try. Some left the cap­i­tal with bot­tles of water and clear plas­tic bags of ba­nanas and or­anges for the long trek. Oth­ers were given juice and ham sand­wiches from vol­un­teers as they set out.

Astrid Daniela Aguilar, who was trav­el­ing with two cousins aged 3 and 4, lined up along­side the high­way to await a chance at hitch­ing a ride.

“You can’t find work there,” she said of her home coun­try of Hon­duras.

The car­a­van be­came a cam­paign is­sue in U. S. midterm elec­tions and U. S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has or­dered the de­ploy­ment of over 5,000 mil­i­tary troops to the bor­der to fend off the mi­grants. Trump has also in­sin­u­ated with­out proof that there are crim­i­nals or even ter­ror­ists in the group.

Many mi­grants say they are flee­ing ram­pant poverty, gang vi­o­lence and po­lit­i­cal in­sta­bil­ity pri­mar­ily in the Cen­tral Amer­i­can coun­tries of Hon­duras, Gu­atemala, El Sal­vador and Nicaragua, and they have now been on the road for weeks.

The long­est leg of the jour­ney still lay ahead.

On Thurs­day, the U. N. re­jected a de­mand by car­a­van rep­re­sen­ta­tives for buses to the bor­der, say­ing its agen­cies were “un­able to pro­vide the transportation de­manded by some mem­bers of the car­a­van.”

Mex­ico City is more than 600 miles from the near­est U. S. bor­der cross­ing at Mcal

len, Texas, but the area around the Mex­i­can bor­der cities of Reynosa, Mata­moros and Nuevo Laredo is rife with drug gangs and the mi­grants con­sider it too risky.

Mi­grants are now tak­ing a still per­ilous, but some­what safer and longer route to Ti­juana in Mex­ico’s far north­west, across from San Diego.

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.

But most vowed to con­tinue to the United States.

Giselle Owen, a 15- year- old from San Pe­dro Sula, Hon­duras, belted out romantic bal

lads as the day’s jour­ney got un­der­way.

“It re­laxes me and I feel like I don’t get tired,” she said. “I can walk hours singing.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Cen­tral Amer­i­can mi­grants travel on a truck af­ter hitch­ing a ride in Te­pot­zot­lan, Mex­ico, on Satur­day as they re­sume their jour­ney north af­ter leav­ing the tem­po­rary shel­ter in Mex­ico City.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

A po­lice of­fi­cer halts traf­fic as a Cen­tral Amer­i­can mi­grant crosses the street in Quere­taro, Mex­ico, on Satur­day as they re­sume their jour­ney north af­ter leav­ing a tem­po­rary shel­ter in Mex­ico City.

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