Migrant Caravan Continues Towards US Despite Mexico Jobs Offer

Tom Ozimek
By Tom Ozimek
October 28, 2018US News

A U.S.-bound caravan of Central American migrants pressed on through southern Mexico on Oct. 27, in spite of government offers of jobs.

“We’re going to the United States. Because that’s our dream,” said 28-year-old Honduran Daniel Leonel Esteves at the head of a 50-person wide column of migrants snaking down a highway into the hills.

Mexico’s outgoing President Enrique Peña Nieto offered a new way for the migrant caravan to stay in Mexico, saying the migrants could remain in the country to work while any with children could send their children to school.

Mexico’s offer to host the migrants came as U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis authorized the use of troops and other military resources at the U.S.-Mexico border to prepare for the caravan’s arrival there.

The Mexican president 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.

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

Mexican police in riot gear briefly blocked the migrant caravan as it neared Oaxaca State before dawn, to relay the offer of asylum.

Police temporary blockade migrants
Police line up for a temporary blockade of a caravan of thousands of migrants from Central America, en route to the United States, making its way to San Pedro Tapanatepec from Arriaga, Mexico, on Oct. 27, 2018. (Adrees Latif/Reuters)

Officials said on Oct. 24, that approximately 1,743 migrants have sought asylum in Mexico while 116 people agreed to be deported.

Thousands of migrants have refused Mexico’s offer, however, pledging to continue north.

“Our goal is not to remain in Mexico,” 58-year-old Oscar Sosa of Honduras told The Associated Press. “Our goal is to make it to the (U.S). We want passage, that’s all.”

caravan thousands migrants Central America
A caravan of thousands of migrants from Central America, en route to the United States, makes its way to San Pedro Tapanatepec from Arriaga, Mexico, on Oct. 27, 2018. (Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters)

Pence Says Caravan Organized by ‘Leftist Organizations’

Vice President Mike Pence said that intelligence indicates that the migrant caravan was organized by leftist political organizations and activists.

Pence said foreign partners provided the intelligence and he also learned of some during a phone call with Juan Orlando Hernández, the president of Honduras.

“What the president of Honduras told me is that the caravan was organized by leftist organizations, political activists within Honduras, and he said it was being funded by outside groups, and even from Venezuela,” Pence told Fox News late Friday, Oct. 26, while campaigning in the southwest United States. “So the American people, I think, see through this—they understand this is not a spontaneous caravan of vulnerable people.”

Estimates of Caravan Vary

The migrant caravan started in northern Honduras and traveled across Guatemala to reach Mexico.

Pinpointing how many migrants are part of the caravan has been difficult, and estimates have varied widely.

Mexican officials claimed that the caravan was only made up of some 3,600 people on Oct. 24. Alex Mensing, an organizer with Pueblo Sin Fronteras, said that the main caravan consists of at least 8,500 people including some 7,000 from Honduras, and has grown in recent days.

Officials in Mexico told El Universal earlier in the week that some 14,000 Hondurans were spread across the main caravans and several others that have started moving north from Honduras in recent days. The officials said the main caravan was composed of 7,333 people. The United Nations said on Oct. 22, that the main caravan had some 7,200 people.

On Oct. 26, the United Nations said that an estimated 2,300 children were traveling with the migrant caravan. Most estimates place children and women combined at less than 25 percent of the caravan.

Reuters and NTD reporter Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.

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