Around 2,000 migrants set out in a caravan from southern Mexico Saturday in the hopes of reaching the United States amid pressure from Washington to impede migrant arrivals that has made obtaining permission to pass through Mexico increasingly difficult.
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Many of the migrants who departed from Tapachula, Chiapas early in the morning had been waylaid in the city just north of Guatemala for weeks or months, awaiting residency or transit papers from Mexican authorities. The migrants are originally from Central America, Africa and the Caribbean. They left their home countries sometimes because of violence, or simply in search of a better life.
So far, Mexican authorities have not attempted to block the advance of the group, which by midday was trudging along a highway toward Arriaga under the supervision of human rights officials and federal police.
Hundreds of African migrants, in particular, have been stuck for months in Tapachula, where they say immigration authorities have stalled on giving them residency or transit papers. Almost all of them want to seek asylum in the United States, rather than stay in Mexico.
The migrants have engaged in scuffles with police at the Tapachula immigration offices in recent weeks. Mexico says they can stay in southern Mexico, or leave by the southern border, but the migrants want documents that will allow them to reach the northern border.
Mexico frequently repatriates, by plane, migrants from countries such as Cuba and Honduras.
However, deportations are more difficult for migrants from faraway countries in Africa, some of which lack the infrastructure to handle repatriations.