'Hundreds' of Central American Migrants Reach US, Mattis Heads to Border

15 November, 2018, 10:56 | Author: Orlando Hughes
  • Rodrigo Abd  AP

Nearly 3,000 people - many of them Mexicans - are waiting in migrant shelters to request asylum alongside hundreds of Central Americans, said Cesar Palencia, head of the Tijuana city government's migrant outreach team.

To the thousands of Central American migrants making their way through Mexico's Pacific coast state of Nayarit, the prospect of meeting a hostile reception at the border is nothing new. It remains unclear if the migrants will be detained while their asylum claim is processed, or if they will be released due to lack of space in detention facilities.

Customs and Border Protection announced it was closing four lanes at the busy San Ysidro and Otay Mesa ports of entry in San Diego, California.

Jose Maria Garcia, director of the Juventud 2000 migrant shelter, said he had been warning authorities since the Honduran caravan set out that migrant refuges were already operating at capacity in the border cities of Tijuana and Mexicali.

Hundreds more migrants reached the US-Mexico border Wednesday, their numbers swelling as the main body of a much larger caravan of Central Americans followed behind them at an accelerated pace through Mexico.

Authorities in Tijuana said they expected between 1,500 and 2,000 migrants associated with the caravan to arrive by the end of the day on Thursday, noting that such an influx could possibly overwhelm the city's resources.

More than 7,000 active duty troops are expected to be fully deployed in Arizona, California and Texas ahead of the arrival of the migrant caravans.

Several hundred people from the caravan got off buses and made their way to a shelter on the Mexican side near the border to line up for food. Most of the troops are in Texas, more than 2,400 kilometres from where the caravan is arriving.

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Two Central American migrants walk along the top of the border structure separating Mexico and the United States in Tijuana. President-elect Lopez Obrador has vowed to provide jobs and visas to the Central Americans.

They thought other buses would be waiting for them to take them through hurricane-ravaged Nayarit to the neighboring state of Sinaloa, farther north. He said the state government, the Roman Catholic Church and Escuinapa officials were helping the migrants.

Rueda was interviewed by phone from Mexico City where he had been participating in a meeting called by Mexico's Interior Ministry to coordinate efforts on the caravan; other attendees included representatives of the United Nations High Commission on Refugees, Mexico's Foreign Ministry, global aid groups and city officials from Tijuana and Mexicali.

The priest also said the church had been able to get "good people" to provide buses for moving migrants northward.

Small groups were also reported in the northern cities of Saltillo and Monterrey, in the region near Texas.

Like most of those in the third caravan, migrant Javier Pineda is from El Salvador, and hopes to reach the United States. Some 533 migrants had requested a voluntary return to their countries, the government reported.

"We call on the governments of the states of Jalisco, Nayarit, and Sinaloa and the civil society to solve this serious problem in order not to leave drift and insecurity to vulnerable families who trusted the word of the state of Jalisco", the group wrote on Facebook.

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