New 1,500-strong migrant caravan seen walking toward US southern border hours after boat full of asylum seekers lands in affluent San Diego community
At least 1,500 migrants formed the first caravan of 2024 as part of an effort to reach Mexico’s northern border region with the United States.
The group, mainly Central and South American migrants, grew tired of the backward Mexican immigration system in Tapachula, a city in the southern state of Chiapas, which borders Guatemala.
The migrants took off on foot on Thursday and reached the town of Huixtla on Friday.
The plan, local media reported, is for migrants to spend the night there and rest before leaving for Escuintla in the morning.
Ezequiel Sánchez said he left his native Venezuela with his wife and one-year-old son.
Migrants walk along a road in Huixtla, a city in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas, on Friday. The group is part of the first caravan formed in 2024 and they hope to reach Mexico’s northern border region with the United States
Migrants walk across a shallow part of the Rio Grande as they try to reach the United States border
He said the political and economic crisis that destabilized the country under the regime of socialist President Nicolás Maduro was one of the factors that led the family to seek a new start in the United States.
Sánchez has heard that other migrants have waited as long as eight months. Mexico’s National Migration Institute worked on their requests for humanitarian visas, allowing them to travel freely.
“We don’t want to wait,” he said. ‘There is no work and we don’t have a place to live either. We decided it was better to go ahead in the caravan, we want to go up to the United States.’
Migrant Alexander Girón chose to leave his native El Salvador because his previous job did not cover basic necessities.
In previous years, many people left El Salvador due to gang-related violence. But even though Salvador’s government has lowered the murder rate with a tough crackdown on gangs that has jailed tens of thousands, Girón said he still needs to leave.
“Security is not enough if there is no work,” said Gíron, who traveled with his wife and two teenage sons in the hope of reaching the US. ‘Wages just can’t keep up, everything is very expensive. We are going to look for work and give our sons a better life.’
The first caravan of the year comes as migrants continue to figure out ways to enter the United States illegally.
More than 20 migrants were filmed Wednesday morning storming the beach in La Jolla, Calif., an ultra-rich neighborhood of San Diego, and disappearing into the southern California enclave, where homes go for a median price of $2.2 million.
The exclusive footage was shot by NewsNation’s national correspondent Jorge Ventura and caught the group arriving on shore on a vessel before taking off to run into the neighborhood.
Migrants carry a child as they walk in a caravan in Huixtla, Mexico on Friday after it formed a day earlier. The group consists of about 1,500 people, mostly from Central and South America, who planned to rest in Huixtla on Friday and then continue their trek to the city of Escuintla on Saturday.
The first caravan of 2024 formed in the southern Mexican city of Tapachula on Thursday and advanced to Huixtla by Friday, where they planned to spend the night before hitting the road again on Saturday morning for their trek to the municipality of Escuintla
Migrants, most from Central and South America, lie on the sidewalk in Huixtla, Mexico on Friday on their second day of their 1,000-mile journey to the United States border.
A Christmas Eve caravan once numbered around 6,000 migrants from Venezuela, Cuba and Central America. But after New Year’s Day, the Mexican government persuaded them to abandon their trek, promising them some sort of unspecified documents.
By the following week, about 2,000 migrants from that caravan resumed their journey through southern Mexico, after participants were left without the papers the Mexican government had apparently promised.
This group wanted transit or exit visas that would enable them to take buses or trains to the US border.
However, they obtained papers restricting containers to Mexico’s southernmost state of Chiapas, where jobs are scarce and local residents are largely poor. As of last week, only a hundred or two had made it across the border between neighboring Oaxaca state and the Gulf coast state of Veracruz, mostly by bus.
In the past, Mexico let migrants through, trusting that they would tire themselves walking along the highway. No caravan has ever walked the full 1,000 miles to the US southern border
US officials met with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador in December to discuss ways Mexico could control the flow of migrants.
López Obrador confirmed that US officials want Mexico to do more to block migrants at its border with Guatemala, or make it more difficult for them to move across Mexico by train or in trucks or buses – a policy known as ‘contention’.
Mexico felt pressure to address the problem after U.S. officials briefly closed two key Texas railroad border crossings in December, claiming they were overwhelmed by migrant processing. This put a stranglehold on Mexican exports bound for the US and on grain moving south for Mexican livestock.
U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the spike in border crossings seen across the southwest U.S. border in December coincided with a period when the immigration enforcement agency in Mexico was underfunded.
López Obrador later said the financial shortfall that led Mexico’s immigration agency to suspend deportations and other operations had been resolved and some deportations later resumed.