Migrant caravan members reject offer to stay in Mexico – ‘Our goal is not to remain in Mexico; our goal is to make it to the (U.S)’

Men pass up water to Central Americans riding on the back of a truck while other migrants wait for rides, as a thousands-strong caravan of Central American makes its way toward the U.S. border, north of Pijijiapan, Mexico, at dawn on Friday, Oct. 26, 2018. Many migrants said they felt safer traveling and sleeping with several thousand strangers in unknown towns than hiring a smuggler or trying to make the trip alone.(AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

By CHRISTOPHER SHERMAN,  Associated Press  ARRIAGA, Mexico (AP) 10/27 — Several thousand Central American migrants turned down a Mexican offer of benefits if they applied for refugee status and stayed in the country’s two southernmost states, vowing to set out before dawn Saturday to continue their long trek toward the U.S. border.

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto announced what he called the “You are at home” plan, offering shelter, medical attention, schooling and jobs to Central Americans in Chiapas and Oaxaca states if they applied, calling it a first step toward permanent refugee status. Authorities said more than 1,700 had already applied for refugee status.

But after one of the caravan’s longest days of walking and hanging from passing trucks, the bulk of the migrants were boisterous Friday evening in their refusal to accept anything less than safe passage to the U.S. border.

“Thank you!” they yelled as they voted to reject the offer in a show of hands in the town of Arriaga. They then added: “No, we’re heading north!”

Migrants arrive to Arriga , as a thousands-strong caravan of Central American migrants slowly makes its way toward the U.S. border, between Pijijiapan and Arriaga, Mexico, Friday, Oct. 26, 2018. Many migrants said they felt safer traveling and sleeping with several thousand strangers in unknown towns than hiring a smuggler or trying to make the trip alone. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

 

Sitting at the edge of the edge of the town square, 58-year-old Oscar Sosa of San Pedro Sula, Honduras concurred.

“Our goal is not to remain in Mexico,” Sosa said. “Our goal is to make it to the (U.S). We want passage, that’s all.”

Still 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) from the nearest U.S. border crossing at McAllen, Texas, the journey could be twice as long if the group heads for the Tijuana-San Diego frontier, as another caravan did earlier this year. Only about 200 in that group made it to the border.

While such migrant caravans have taken place regularly over the years, passing largely unnoticed, they have received widespread attention this year after fierce opposition from U.S. President Donald Trump.

On Friday, the Pentagon approved a request for additional troops at the southern border, likely to total several hundred, to help the U.S. Border Patrol as Trump seeks to transform concerns about immigration and the caravan into electoral gains in the Nov. 6 midterms.

Migrants, who are part of a caravan of Central American migrants slowly makes its way toward the U.S. border, rest on the rails in Arriaga, Mexico, Friday, Oct. 26, 2018. Many migrants said they felt safer traveling and sleeping with several thousand strangers in unknown towns than hiring a smuggler or trying to make the trip alone. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

 

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis signed off on the request for help from the Department of Homeland Security and authorized the military staff to work out details such as the size, composition and estimated cost of the deployments, according to a U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss planning that has not yet been publicly announced.

Stoking fears about the caravan and illegal immigration to rally his Republican base, the president has insinuated that gang members and “Middle Easterners” are mixed in the group, though he later acknowledged there was no proof of that.

Central American migrants waiting for rides along the highway are lit by the lights of police cars providing security for them, as part of a thousands-strong caravan slowly making its way toward the U.S. border, in Pijijiapan, before dawn on Friday, Oct. 26, 2018. Many migrants said they felt safer traveling and sleeping with several thousand strangers in unknown towns than hiring a smuggler or trying to make the trip alone.(AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

At a church in Arriaga that opened its grounds to women and children Friday, Ana Griselda Hernandez, 44, of Mapala, Honduras said she and two friends traveling with children had decided to pay for a bus ride from Pijijiapan, because the 4-year-old and 5-year-old would have never covered the 60-mile distance.

“It’s difficult because they walk very slowly,” she said. She pointed out scabbed over blisters on her own feet, a testament to the fact they had walked or hitched rides the rest of the way since leaving their country.

A coordinator of the caravan said they would strike out again before dawn for Tapanatepec, about 29 miles (46 kilometers) away across the Oaxaca state line.

Mexico’s government has allowed the migrants to make their way on foot, but has not provided them with food, shelter or bathrooms, reserving any aid for those who turn themselves in.

Police have also been ejecting paid migrant passengers off buses, enforcing an obscure road insurance regulation to make it tougher for them to travel that way.

Authorities were also cracking down on smaller groups trying to catch up with the main caravan, detaining about 300 Hondurans and Guatemalans as they walked along a highway after crossing the Mexico border illegally, said an official with the national immigration authority.

Migrants, who enter Mexico illegally every day, usually ride in smugglers’ trucks or buses, or walk at night to avoid detection. The fact that this group was walking in broad daylight suggests they were adopting the tactics of the caravan, which is large enough to be out in the open without fear of mass detentions.

However, it now appears such smaller groups will be picked off by immigration authorities, keeping them from swelling the caravan’s ranks.

On Friday evening, Irineo Mujica, whose organization People without Borders is supporting the caravan, accused Mexican immigration agents of harassing migrants in an effort to stop the group’s advance. He urged them to travel closely together.

“They are terrorizing us,” he said.

___

Associated Press writers Mark Stevenson and Peter Orsi in Mexico City contributed to this report.

https://www.apnews.com/e79053d96a194ba6b5ae7af4111111c0

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Posted in: Border Control, Border Patrol, DHS, ICE, Illegal Immigration, U.S. Government

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Terms of Use for Posting Comments

Terms of Use

This site (the “Site”) is operated and maintained by Law Enforcement Education Foundation, Corporation (“Company”). Throughout the Site, the terms “we”, “us” and “our” refer to Company.  The words “user,” “you” and “your” as used herein refer to you.

Please read these terms and conditions of use (“Terms of Use”) carefully before contributing content. If you do not agree to these Terms of Use, please do not contribute content. Your use of the Site is subject to the Terms and Conditions found here .

By contributing content to the Site, you represent and warrant that you are at least eighteen (18) years old and that you have read and understand these Terms of Use and any amendments thereto and agree to be bound by them. If you are not at least eighteen (18) years old or you do not agree and accept these Terms of Use, you are prohibited from contributing content.

From time to time, we may permit users to submit content to the Site.  You hereby acknowledge and agree that by submitting remarks, comments, suggestions, ideas, graphics, feedback, edits, concepts, comments, photographs, illustrations and other materials (other than personal information and/or registration information) through the Site (individually and collectively, “Submissions”), you (i) grant us a nonexclusive, royalty-free, perpetual, transferable, irrevocable and fully sub-licensable right to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, translate, distribute, publish, create derivative works from and publicly display and perform such Submissions throughout the world in any media, now known or hereafter created, without attribution to you; (ii) grant us the right to pursue at law any person or entity that violates your and/or our rights in your Submissions; and (iii) forever waive any and all of your rights, including but not limited to moral rights, if any, in and to your Submissions, including, without limitation, any all rights or requirements of attribution or identification of you as the author of the Submission or any derivative thereof.  We reserve the right to remove any of your Submissions from the Site, in whole or in part, without notice to you, for any reason or no reason.

Submissions are made voluntarily. Any submissions which include personally identifiable information are subject to our Privacy Policy found here .  You may not upload or otherwise publish content on the Site that (i) is confidential to you or any third party; (ii) is untrue, inaccurate, false or other than an original work of your authorship; (iii) that relates to or impersonates any other person; (iv) violates the copyright, trademark, patent or other intellectual property rights of any person or entity; (v) contains any content, personally identifiable information or other information, or materials of any kind that relate or refer to any other person or entity other than the provider of the products, goods or services to which the Submission relates; or (vi) violates any law, or in any manner infringes or interferes with the rights of others, including but not limited to the use of names, information, or materials that (A) libel, defame, or invade the privacy of any third party, (B) are obscene or pornographic, (C) are harmful, threatening, offensive, abusive, harassing, vulgar, false or inaccurate, racially, sexually, ethnically or are otherwise objectionable or otherwise contrary to the laws of any place where such Submissions may be accessed; (D) constitute personal attacks on other individuals; (E) promote criminal, immoral or illegal activity; (F) promote or advertise any person, product or service or solicit funds; or (G) are deemed confidential by any contract or policy.

You are solely responsible for any Submissions you make and their accuracy. We take no responsibility and assume no liability for any Submissions posted by you or any third party.

Unless approved by us in writing in advance, you agree not to: (i) provide or create a link to the Site; or (ii) create any frames at any other sites pertaining to any of the content located on the Site.

We reserve the right, in our discretion, to update, change or replace any part of these Terms of Use for Posting Comments by posting updates and/or changes to our Site.  It is your responsibility to check this page periodically for changes.  Your continued use of, and/or access to the Site, following the posting of any changes to these Terms of Use for Posting Comments, constitutes your acceptance of those changes.