By Juan Manuel Blanco
Escuintla, Mexico, Jun 9 (EFE).- Though the 15,000 migrants who headed north from Tapachula – on the Guatemalan border – earlier this week has split into four separate contingents, the participants in the caravan remain determined to reach the United States.
One group spent most of Thursday walking roughly 60 km (37 mi) from Huixtla to Escuintla, where they rested for a few hours before moving on to Mapastepec to camp for the night.
The caravan, comprising people from a score of countries, stopped in Huixtla after the Mexico’s INM immigration agency announced that it was ready to provide the migrants with transit permits
The INM said Thursday that it has issued roughly 4,500 FMM visas valid for 30 days.
During the course of Wednesday, the caravan fragmented into four groups: one remained in Huixtla; another took up positions outside an INM office in a nearby town to get their FMMs; a third contingent undertook the walk to Escuintla, and the fourth, made up of migrants who obtained their visas, opted to continue their journey on public buses.
A Venezuelan man who identified himself only as Joel told Efe that trip is taking a heavy physical toll on the migrants, especially children and pregnant women.
“Many people are remaining behind due to fatigue and the taxing climate that has been one of the factors that has harmed their health,” he said.
The Rev. Cesar Augusto Cañaveral Perez, head of migrant outreach for the Catholic diocese of Tapachula, views the caravans as a way out for the US-bound travelers who can no longer wait for Mexico to provide them with transit permits.
This week’s caravan is the latest manifestation of the wave of migration to the US, whose Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency recorded a record total of more than 1.7 million illegal border crossings in the 2021 fiscal year that ended last Sept. 30.
Since the 2022 fiscal year began on Oct. 1, 2021, the CBP says that more than 1 million migrants have been intercepted along the US’s southern border.
Mexico, for its part, says it deported more than 114,000 foreigners in 2021, the highest number in nearly 15 years, according to figures from the Migrant Policy Unit. EFE