Amid ongoing threats from President Donald Trump, thousands of migrants from Honduras are continuing their march through Mexico and toward the U.S. border, in search of a safer and more prosperous life.
Despite attempts by the Mexican authorities to stop the migrants from crossing a bridge between Guatemala and Mexico, thousands still managed to successfully make it across the border, reaching Tapachula, Mexico.
A large number of the migrants crossed the Suchiate River, which is located between the two countries, in order to subvert the authorities, CBS News reported.
Although the caravan began with less than 200 participants over a week ago, the number has grown significantly, with authorities estimating that as of Sunday, 5,000 migrants are now making the march, the Chicago Tribune reported. On Monday, CNN reported that the number had reached 7,500.
As the migrants continued to move forward on Monday, about 1,500 miles still stand between them and the U.S. border.
The New York Times reports that caravans such as this one have happened annually in the past, though usually without much fanfare. The caravans are made up of Central American migrants fleeing poverty and violence in their home countries, including Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. According to the Times, the migrants travel in caravans for protection against the criminals that stalk their trip north.
And while most caravans typically shrink in size as they get further north, this one has only grown — becoming by far the largest caravan on record, the Times notes.
A different immigrant caravan made headlines in April as it traveled through Mexico, prompting harsh criticism from Trump at the time. Shortly afterward, the White House announced a crackdown on policies against undocumented migrants, TIME reported.
Despite all of their hardships, the migrants in the current caravan remain committed to their goal of reaching the U.S. border.
“We are going to sleep here in the street, because we have nothing else,” father of four Jose Meija told the Washington Tribute. “We have to sleep on the sidewalk, and tomorrow wake up and keep walking.”
“We have sunburn. We have blisters. But we got here,” fellow marcher Britany Hernandez told the AFP. “Our strength is greater than Trump’s treats.”
As the number of migrants has increased, so too has Trump’s censure of the caravan.
On Sunday, the president said on Twitter that “full efforts are being made to stop the onsalught [sic] of illegal aliens from crossing” the country’s Southern border.
“People have to apply for asylum in Mexico first, and it they fail to do that, the U.S. will turn them away,” he continued, before trying to blame the caravan on Democrats.
“The Caravans are a disgrace to the Democrat Party. Change the immigration laws NOW!” he added in a separate tweet.
As The New York Times notes, there is no evidence that Democrats support the effort. And despite GOP Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz’s claims, there is no evidence that George Soros, a billionaire and major Democratic donor, paid migrants to “storm.”
But the president amped up his anti-immigration rhetoric the following day, writing on Twitter that there were “Criminals and unknown Middle Easterners” among the caravan.
With an eye towards the midterm elections, he added, “Every time you see a Caravan, or people illegally coming, or attempting to come, into our Country illegally, think of and blame the Democrats for not giving us the votes to change our pathetic Immigration Laws! Remember the midterms! So unfair to those who come in legally.”
He also went on to claim that the U.S. “will now begin cutting off, or substantially reducing” the amount of foreign aid given to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
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On Monday morning, as the migrants continued their march around 900 miles from the U.S. border, Trump tweeted: “Sadly, it looks like Mexico’s Police and Military are unable to stop the Caravan heading to the Southern Border of the United States. Criminals and unknown Middle Easterners are mixed in. I have alerted Border Patrol and Military that this is a National Emergy. Must change laws!”
Mexico’s President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who will take office on Dec. 1, suggested on Sunday that the United States, Canada and Mexico work together to provide support for poor areas of Central America and Mexico, according to the Chicago Tribune.
“In this way we confront the phenomenon of migration, because he who leaves his town does not leave for pleasure but out of necessity,” he remarked.
According to a Honduran university study, the country has a homicide rate of 43 for every 100,000 citizens, making it one of the more violent countries in the world, reported the AFP.
While numerous citizens in Mexico are offering the migrants food, water, clothes and rides, Red Cross official Ulises Garcia told the Washington Post that some migrants are refusing to be taken to hospitals “because they fear they’ll be detained and deported.” Their injuries include lacerated and infected feet.
“They want to continue on their way,” he said.