Migrant Caravan Resumes From Southern Mexico After Promise of Exit Visas Falls Through
Migrant Caravan Resumes From Southern Mexico After Promise of Exit Visas Falls Through

By Jana J. Pruet

On Monday, a caravan of about 2,000 migrants resumed their journey through southern Mexico, after failing to receive the documents they believe were promised them by the Mexican government.

The original caravan of about 6,000 migrants from Venezuela, Cuba, and Central America had begun walking on Christmas Eve with the goal of reaching the U.S. border. But after New Year’s Day, the Mexican government convinced them to forgo their march, promising to give them some kind of unspecified documents.

The migrants were seeking transit or exit visas they hoped would allow them to take buses or trains to the U.S. border. However, the papers they received do not allow them to leave the southern state of Chiapas, which sits along the Guatemalan border.

The large group set out on foot from the railway town of Arriaga, near the border with Oaxaca state, about 150 miles from Tapachula, where the original caravan started on Dec. 24, 2023.

Migrants participating in the caravan said they were lied to by Mexican immigration officials who provided shelter in the town of Huixtla, Chiapas.

Rosa Vázquez, who is from El Salvador, said officials offered her papers that would have allowed her to remain in the largely impoverished state of Chiapas, where there is little work available.

“Immigration lied to us. They made promises they did not live up to,” said Ms. Vázquez. “They just wanted to break up the group, but they were wrong because we’re all here, and we’re going to start walking.”

Another migrant, Coritza Matamoros, who walked from Honduras, said she thought she was being sent to Mexico City. Instead, she was taken to a local shelter along with her husband and two children.

“They really tricked us. They made us believe we were being taken to Mexico City,” said Ms. Matamoros. “They made us sign documents.”

“Everyone knows what our situation is,” said migrant Carlos Vera, from Ecuador. “We don’t have another option.”

For now, the large caravan, comprised of single adults and some entire families, aims to make it further up the road to the town of Tapanatepec in the state of Oaxaca, about 480 miles south of Mexico City.

In the past, Mexico has allowed migrants to pass through, expecting them to tire themselves out walking along the highway. No migrant caravan has ever completed the full 1,000-mile walk to the U.S. border, reportedly.

On Dec. 27, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas met with Mexico’s president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, to discuss “unprecedented irregular migration in the Western Hemisphere” and identify ways the two countries can work together to address border security.

Shortly before the three-hour meeting, held in Mexico City, Mr. López Obrador suggested the U.S. should ease sanctions on Cuba and Venezuela as a way to reduce immigration and increase U.S. development aid to countries whose citizens are leaving, the New York Post reported.

Mr. López Obrador confirmed that U.S. officials want Mexico to block migrants coming into the country at its southern border with Guatemala or make it more difficult for them to travel north to the U.S. border.

Last month, U.S. officials briefly closed two vital Texas railway border crossings in an effort to curb the surge of illegal crossings into the country.

The move throttled freight moving from Mexico to the U.S. and vice versa. The rail crossings have since been reopened.

More than 680,000 migrants were detected moving through Mexico between January and November 2023, according to Mexican officials.

In December, more than 235,000 immigrants crossed illegally into the U.S., CBS News reported.

Illegal border crossing arrests topped 2 million for each of the last two fiscal years.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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