Social Issues

Migrants set out from southern Mexico in 1st caravan of 2023

Tapachula, Mexico, Feb 28 (EFE).- Some 1,000 migrants from various countries left here Tuesday hoping to reach the United States as part of the first caravan of 2023.

The group, comprising people from Venezuela, Honduras, Ecuador, El Salvador, Haiti and Guatemala, left the southern border city of Tapachula planning to rendezvous with another contingent of migrants in Arriaga, 230 km (143 mi) away.

Some of the travelers have temporary visas from Mexico’s INM migration agency, though those are only valid for travel within Chiapas state.

Others have no documents.

Caravan member Dany Gonzalez said he left Venezuela two weeks ago with the ambition of finding employment in the US and sending money home to his wife and daughter.

“I am a literature instructor in Venezuela. I earned $7 a month that was enough to buy 7 kilos (15.4 lbs) of rice,” he told EFE. “But that obliged me to leave with some $1,500 that I obtained to undertake this journey.”

Kelvin Ochoa, 29, is making the trip with his wife and their son.

Using a stick as a cane, he told EFE that he was hurt five months ago in an accident as the family was crossing the Darien jungle, which separates Colombia from Panama.

Doctors in Panama inserted five pins in his injured leg, but he needs additional surgery to repair the damage.

“That has not taken the dream away from me, so I am making the effort to keep going,” he said. “It hurts, I can’t stand the pain. I’m just trying not to stop. I’m afraid that they will send me back, so we have left together in this group to attain the dream.”

People in pursuit of the “American Dream” continue to stream north despite recent moves by the US to discourage unauthorized migrants.

The US announced in January that it would take in up to 30,000 migrants per month from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela who successfully apply for entry from their countries of origin but immediately deport other migrants from those nations.

And last week, the Department of Homeland Security said that it will propose, in conjunction with the Department of Justice, a rule that would make it more difficult for people who enter the US without authorization to apply for asylum.

Under the proposed rule, undocumented migrants who “cannot establish a valid claim to protection” will be subject to immediate removal and barred from re-entering the US for five years, DHS said.

US Customs and Border Protection said that its agents detained a record 2.76 million unauthorized migrants on the Mexican border during the 12 months ending Sept. 30, 2022.

EFE jmb/dr

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