A group of thousands of migrants who have set off on foot for the United States from southern Mexico is steadily growing in size, prompting concerns about how the Biden administration is handling the immigration crisis.
Organizer Irineo Mujica, an activist for freedom of movement across borders, said on Tuesday the caravan had swelled since Monday by about 1,000 to more than 7,000 people, although a spokesperson for the Chiapas government said state authorities still estimated its size at around 3,500 participants.
The tweets shown here offer some opinions on what is going on behind the scenes.
This is Irineo Mujica
He is the man leading a massive caravan of illegal migrants to the U.S.
He admits that this crisis is a coordinated attack on the United States and Biden is allowing it
— End Wokeness (@EndWokeness) October 31, 2023
Biden Border Crisis
A 6000-person migrant caravan just left the south border of Mexico and is headed to the USA. pic.twitter.com/ULcjz35jdW
— Citizen Free Press (@CitizenFreePres) October 30, 2023
The monthly number of Chinese migrants crossing the Darién has been rising gradually, from 913 in January to 2,588 in September. At the U.S.-Mexico border, the Border Patrol made 22,187 arrests of Chinese people for crossing the border illegally from Mexico from January through September, nearly 13 times the same period in 2022.
On Tuesday the caravan was resting in the municipality of Huehuetan, about 16 miles from Tapachula, a city near the Guatemalan border from which the migrants set off. On Wednesday, the caravan will aim to reach the town of Huixtla, about 13 miles to the north, Mujica said.
Migrants from Central America, Venezuela, Cuba and Haiti initiated the trek Monday after they had grown frustrated with the long wait times the Mexican government was taking to process their refugee or exit visa applications at the main immigration processing center in the Chiapas town of Tapachula, near the Guatemala border.
Mexico’s National Migration Institute, which is tasked with approving or denying the applications, has been backed up with requests. Migrants normally wait weeks or months to have their status legalized, which allows them to work and move freely in the country.
It comes as the US is seeing a big increase in arriving using a relatively new and perilous route through Panama’s Darién Gap jungle, thanks in part to social media posts and videos providing step-by-step guidance.
Most of them are from Central and South America, local aid groups say.
However Chinese people were the fourth-highest nationality, after Venezuelans, Ecuadorians and Haitians, crossing the Darién Gap during the first nine months of this year, according to Panamanian immigration authorities. Chinese migrants using this route fly to Ecuador and then make their way north to the U.S.-Mexico border.
US President Joe Biden is due to meet leaders from the region on Friday to discuss how to curb the flow of migrants to the United States.
President Biden has come under attack for his handling of migration, in particular on the US-Mexico border.
Republicans say he is not doing enough to stem the flow and Democrat mayors, whose cities have seen an influx after Republican governors bussed newly arrived migrants there, have joined in the criticism, saying that their cities cannot house and feed them.
The number of people apprehended at the US’s southern border exceeded 2 million both in the 2022 and the 2023 fiscal years.
In September 2023 alone, US Border Patrol apprehended more than 200,000 migrants crossing the US-Mexico border unlawfully, according to US Homeland Security figures.
Those who have joined the migrant caravan, which left the city of Tapachula on Monday, say they are determined to make it to the US.
“In Venezuela things are very tough, we can’t live with the money we get, it’s not enough for us, and that’s why we’re going to the United States,” a Venezuelan father who was embarking on the long walk with his wife and two daughters told Reuters news agency.
One of the organisers of the caravan, Irineo Mújica of the NGO People without Borders, said that the migrants had set off together after having been left “stranded” by the Mexican authorities in increasingly dangerous Chiapas state.
“Organised crime is already taking over Chiapas, violence is everywhere. We are trying to save lives with these kinds of actions,” he said of the caravan.
“I could not keep on waiting without money, sleeping in the street, that’s not a life. Better that we should head up [northwards] and let’s hope the [Mexican] government helps us, doesn’t stop us”.
Some previous caravans have clashed with Mexican police, which tried to stop them from walking along major highways.
Sources: BBC, Daily Mail.