Caravan of hundreds of migrants heads north through Mexico

By José Torres and Lizbeth Diaz

HUIXTLA, Mexico (Reuters) – Hundreds of migrants from Central America and the Caribbean crossed through Mexico on Wednesday, the latest in a series of caravans that have sought to reach the U.S. border in recent months.

The United States has seen record levels of migration this year, with Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers apprehending or deporting more than 1.7 million migrants in the past 12 months.

The majority of the remaining members of the caravan were families with young children, according to a Reuters witness, who estimated that around 2,000 migrants were gathered on Tuesday in Huixtla in the Mexican state of Chiapas, in southern Mexico, to rest and receive medical attention before resuming their journey north.

Among them was Arleth Chavez from Guatemala, who had walked with the caravan about 28 miles (45 km) since leaving the southern town of Tapachula this weekend.

“My feet are burning and suffering from the blisters,” Chavez said. “I’ll do it as far as God allows.”

Migrants denounced the lengthy asylum process in Tapachula, located near Mexico’s southern border with Guatemala, and thousands of people have left the city in a series of caravans this year, including many families from Haiti.

Some members of the most recent caravan aim to reach Mexico City, where they hope the asylum process could be faster, while others aim to make their way to the US border.

The US government pressured Mexico to contain the migrants before reaching the US border.

Last week, the Mexican Conference of Catholic Bishops, which operates around 100 shelters across Mexico, urged the country’s authorities to end militarized immigration enforcement efforts that the group said have provoked an increase in human rights violations against migrants in transit.

The slow movement of the caravan through Mexico comes as US President Joe Biden faces growing criticism from Republicans over the current high levels of migration, which comes amid widespread violence and growing hunger in Central America and parts of the Caribbean.

On Tuesday, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell blasted Biden for the “record” number of illegal migrants detained along the US-Mexico border over the past year, blaming what he described as ” intentionally insecure border ”.

(Reporting by Jose Torres and Daniel Becerril in Tapachula; Additional reporting by Lizbeth Diaz in Mexico; Writing by Laura Gottesdiener; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

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