On the international bridge linking Mexico and Guatemala over the Suchiate River, more than 3,000 men, women and children are currently waiting to cross into Mexican territory, according to Mexican immigration authorities, the Catholic Church, and the municipal government of Ciudad Hidalgo in the Mexican state of Chiapas. All told, there are 14,000 migrants who have either crossed into Mexico or who are waiting admission.

There are also reports that among the caravan of migrants are nationals from Congo, Bangladesh, Haiti, Cameroon, Angola, and Sri Lanka. Over the last year, migrants from outside of the Americas have become more notable.

A mass of approximately 5,400 reached the city of Tapachula on Sunday, which is about 25 miles from Ciudad Hidalgo. They slept in the central park on Sunday night. Another group of approximately 2,000 Hondurans walked in the rain on Sunday, leaving the city behind. In Ciudad Hidalgo, state and municipal authorities and the Catholic Church outfitted three migrant hostels. The Catholic Diocese of Tapachula has provided several tons of food and water to the migrants for the last two days. At the migrant camp at Expo Feria in Ciudad Hidalgo, there were 723 migrants. These were identified as 220 women, 236 men, and 267 children.

Mexican health authorities are providing vaccinations to children, and are also taking blood samples. Tapachula’s city authorities are providing water for baths and sanitation. 

Humanitarian groups located in Esquipulas -- a town not far from Guatemala’s border with Honduras -- are warning that two more migrant caravans are forming. They report that there are between 3,000 to 4,000 Hondurans in Guatemala who are headed to Mexico and thence to the U.S. A call has gone out to provide food, water, shoes, and clothing for the migrants there. In the midst of the rainy season, migrants are facing daytime temperatures of 100 F. followed by chilly nights. 

Local media report that many of the migrants said that they spontaneously decided to head north when they saw the already organized caravans and decided to take a chance. Many report that they are fleeing the unemployment, violence and uncertainty in their region. Honduras remains one of the poorest and most violent countries in the world. The entire Central American region faces significant criminal violence waged by drug cartels and gangs, while governments have been frequently cited for poor performance and human rights violations.

'Please don't enter illegally'

On their way from Ciudad Hidalgo to Tapachula, the thousands of migrants were offered transportation on buses to a reception center in the city where they were to petition for legal entry and/or asylum. Most refused the offer from Mexican immigration authorities. Representing Mexico’s immigration agency, Francisco Echavarria told migrants “You may not go further into Mexican territory illegally.” Calling on them to go to the reception center, Echavarria told them, “Please legalize your immigration status. You may be given asylum, refugee status, if you desire. You have every right to ask for it.”

Mexican authorities have prepared accomodations for 5,000 migrants at the Expo Mesoamericana fairgrounds in Tapachula. However, there are reports that migrants are refusing to go there because of fears that they will be deported. They have preferred to rest in Tapachula’s central park. 

While Mexican National Security Commissioner Renato Sales said this weekend that the Central American migrants will not be deported immediately, he called on them to enter in an orderly fashion so that they can be given attention at immigration centers. Mexico’s ministry of foreign affairs released a statement saying that migrants who have entered Mexico “informally” by crossing the Suchiate River may indeed face deportation. Mexican consular officials are on hand at the bridge across the river to provide information about visas and other requirements. Water and first aid are being provided at the bridge. 

On Friday, President Trump tweeted "Can you believe this, and what Democrats are allowing to be done to our country?" in reference to a video he attached on Twitter. The video showed two armed men apparently paying women with cash as they moved forward to receive the money. On the audio, someone could be heard shouting "Women first!" while another voice answers, "Thank you!"

In April of this year, a similar caravan of migrants began their trek north from Tapachula and headed towards the U.S. More than 150 migrants reached the U.S. border where most appealed for asylum. The group originally numbered more than 1,200 when it started in March on Mexico's border with Guatemala. Two busloads of the migrants arrived in Tijuana, Baja California, on April 25, which were followed by four more busloads that had come from ermosillo, Sonora. The caravan reached its end on April 29 in Tijuana at the Friendship Park at the U.S.-Mexico border. President Trump threatened to delay negotiations on renewing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), while U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions called the caravan "a deliberate attempt to undermine our laws and overwhelm our system." On the next day, the Justice Department announced criminal charges against 11 persons for crossing the border illegally.

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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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