After Rejecting Offer, Migrant Caravan Demands Transport From Mexican Authorities

Zachary Stieber
By Zachary Stieber
October 30, 2018World News

Just days after rejecting an offer by the Mexican government for education, jobs, and health care for migrants, organizers of the migrant caravan demanded the Mexican government provide migrants with transportation to Mexico City.

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said on Oct. 26, that migrants wishing to obtain temporary identification documents, jobs, and/or education for their children could do so by registering for asylum in southern Mexico.

He indicated that the migrants could eventually settle down in the area.

“This plan is only for those who comply with Mexican laws, and it’s a first step towards a permanent solution for those who are granted refugee status in Mexico,” Pena Nieto said in a pre-recorded address broadcast.

The migrants who accepted the offer would get jobs helping clean and maintain public buildings and roads, reported Breitbart. Migrants would be given Mexico’s version of a social security number so they’d be able to open bank accounts and carry out other actions that require the number.

Migrants without the proper papers have been threatened with deportation but in reality, Mexican authorities have not done so unless the migrants themselves ask to be transported back to their home countries. Officials said on Oct. 24, that approximately 1,743 migrants have sought asylum in Mexico while 116 people agreed to be deported.

The migrants rejected in a show of hands vote the offer for asylum, though organizers nor migrants elaborated on why they would keep traveling despite the offer.

Migrants sleep together at a church in Niltepec, Mexico
Migrants sleep packed together in a church courtyard at nightfall, as a thousands-strong caravan of Central Americans hoping to reach the U.S. border stops for the night in Niltepec, Oaxaca state, Mexico, on Oct. 29, 2018. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

Organizers Demand Transport

Organizers of the caravan, which is currently estimated at some 4,000 people after ballooning to 8,500 at one point, demanded that Mexican authorities provide transport so it could reach Mexico City as the group continued north on Oct. 30, after the group arrived in the Oaxaca state town of Niltepec, some 463 miles (746 kilometers) from the country’s capital.

The Mexican government has shown no inclination to assist, however, with the exception of its migrant protection agency giving some of the caravan’s stragglers rides to the next town over the weekend.

Pueblo Sin Fronteras, who helped organize the caravan and has been deeply involved with its continuation, has said it hopes to hold meetings in Mexico City with federal lawmakers and authorities as well as representatives of the incoming government to discuss migrants’ rights and the caravan’s future. The group said migrants should be taken to the capital in a “safe and dignified” manner.

But Mexican officials seem intent only on seeing the caravan melt away as it travels toward the U.S. border. And on Monday, the Federal Police aggressively tried to turn back hundreds more migrants who crossed the Suchiate River to enter Mexico from Guatemala.

Second migrant caravan enters Mexico, headed to U.S.
A new group of Central American migrants bound for the U.S border wade in mass across the Suchiate River, that connects Guatemala and Mexico, in Tecun Uman, Guatemala, on Oct. 29, 2018. The first migrant caravan group was able to cross the river on rafts—an option now blocked by Mexican Navy river and shore patrols. (AP Photo/Santiago Billy)

Violence on Border

A low-flying police helicopter hovered overhead as the migrants waded in large groups across the murky river, apparently trying to use the downdraft from its rotors to discourage them. Guatemala’s Noti7 channel reported that one man drowned and aired video of a man dragging a seemingly lifeless body from the river, but Honduran Vice Foreign Minister Nelly Jerez later told TV station Televicentro that the man was alive and being treated at a hospital in Tapachula, Mexico.

Once on the Mexican side, the migrants were surrounded and escorted by dark-uniformed officers as sirens wailed. The standoff at the riverbank followed a more violent confrontation on the border bridge over the river Sunday night, when migrants threw rocks and used sticks against Mexico police. One migrant died from a head wound during the clash, but the cause was unclear.

The group was much smaller than the first caravan. In the Mexican border town of Ciudad Hidalgo, they said they hoped to continue onward Tuesday morning. The second group left Guatemalan police officers injured after tearing down border barriers, Guatemala’s Interior Ministry said, and Mexico’s Interior Department said in a statement that two Hondurans ages 17 and 22 were arrested Monday when one of them tried to shoot at police in the town of Ignacio Zaragoza, near the Hidalgo border crossing.

El Salvador’s immigration agency, meanwhile, said a group of Salvadorans including several dozen children and adolescents that crossed legally into Guatemala on Sunday numbered about 500.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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