Migrant caravan on the move in southern Mexico
HUEHUETAN, Mexico (AP) — Several thousand migrants started walking before dawn through southern Mexico Tuesday, covering ground before the heat of the day and while authorities showed no signs yet of trying to stop them.
The largest migrant caravan of the year provided a live illustration to regional leaders meeting in Los Angeles this week for the Summit of the Americas of the challenges governments face in managing immigration flows.
Many of the migrants themselves had more pressing concerns, such as getting their families to safety and finding work.
María José Gomez, 24, and Roselys Gutierrez, 25, a couple from Venezuela, said they had left Colombia after experiencing homophobia there and suffering physical attacks.
They arrived in the southern Mexican city of Tapachula near the border with Guatemala a week ago and joined the caravan when it left Monday. Gomez was walking Tuesday with the rainbow flag and Gutierrez with that of Venezuela.
Mexico has tried to contain migrant to the south, far from the U.S. border. But many have grown frustrated there by the slow bureaucratic process to regularize their status and the lack of job opportunities to provide for their families.
The phenomenon of migrant caravans took off in 2018. Previously, smaller annual caravans moved through Mexico to highlight migrants’ plight, but without the stated goal of reaching the U.S. border.
But then several thousand migrants began walking together, betting on safety in numbers and a greater likelihood that government officials would not try to stop them. It worked at first, but more recently the Guatemalan and Mexican governments have been far more aggressive in moving to dissolve the caravans before they can build momentum.
While the caravans have garnered media attention, the migrants traveling in them represent a small fraction of the migratory flow that carries people to the U.S. border every day, usually with the help of smugglers.