A caravan of thousands of migrants continued its day-long march through Mexico toward the southern US border on Wednesday, hours ahead of a planned meeting between Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
About 7,500 people from 24 different countries are estimated to be part of a larger group heading north Wednesday through the Mexican state of Chiapas, which borders Guatemala, migrant caravan organizer and activist Luis Garcia Villagrán told NBC News. He said that a group of women, children and the sick went ahead and reached Mabasetepec.
Most immigrants come from Central America, Cuba, Venezuela, and Haiti, but some come from countries such as Turkey, Iran, Syria, and Cameroon.
Not all immigrants seek to enter the United States, Garcia Villagrán said. Some believe the documents will allow them to stay in Mexico and receive work and humanitarian relief.
The migrants hope to receive attention and help from the Mexican government, García Villagrán said. “Comrades, the situation of migrant women and children walking is truly deplorable,” he said.
Jonas Sosa, a Venezuelan immigrant traveling with the caravan, told Telemundo that the migrants need help. Sosa, who said he left Venezuela two months ago, said he lost his left leg in a car accident and relies on crutches and a prosthetic leg to support himself in travel.
“Those of us who are looking for a new dream, those of us who want to work, those of us who want to get ahead in life,” he said of the people traveling with the caravan.
According to the Associated Press, migrants spent Christmas night sleeping on scraps of cardboard or plastic, in awnings, tents or stretched out on bare ground.
“I'm used to my Christmas party with my family, we don't spend it on the street like we did yesterday,” Eduviges Arias, an immigrant from Venezuela, told the news agency.
Blinken, López Obrador, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and White House Homeland Security Adviser Liz Sherwood-Randall met in Mexico City on Wednesday to discuss “unprecedented irregular migration in the Western Hemisphere and the caravan's journey to identify routes between Mexico and the United States.” Border security will face challenges,” the State Department said in a statement.
García Villagrán said the meeting focused “entirely on election questions.”
“Migrant women and children are used as bargaining chips,” she said.
Last week, US Customs and Border Protection faced a record number of undocumented immigrants crossing the border. At the same time, registered immigrants are being detained at U.S. border facilities, according to three Homeland Security officials.
Last Thursday, House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., sent Letter President Joe Biden blamed him for the border crisis and urged him to act to “stop record waves of illegal immigration.”
“Immigrants attempting to enter without authorization are subject to removal under Title 8 authorities,” Customs and Border Protection said in a statement to NBC News Tuesday evening.
““We are aware of recent reports that a migrant caravan has formed in southern Mexico, which we do several times a year,” the agency said. The border. Nevertheless, as we have with previous movements of migrants, CBP will continue to monitor developments in coordination with our foreign and interactive counterparts.”