In a statement on Oct. 24, the Mexican government said approximately 3,630 people—mostly Hondurans fleeing violence and poverty at home—make up the migrant group traveling north from the Mexican city of Huixtla toward Mapastepec, Chiapas.
Officials also confirmed that as of 10 a.m. on Oct. 24, 1,743 migrants have sought asylum in Mexico, while 116 people have decided not to request asylum and have agreed to be deported back to their home country.
Francesca Fontanini, the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees regional public information officer who is stationed in Mexico, told The Epoch Times in an email that most of the people who have sought asylum are single men and women, LGBTI individuals, single mothers with children, and the elderly.
Over the past week, thousands of migrants traveled from Honduras into Guatemala before crossing the border into Mexico. Most estimates have said between 7,000 and 10,000 people participated in the caravan. A second caravan of more than 1,000 people is currently in Guatemala and heading to Mexico.
Gang Members, Criminals Part of Caravan
U.S. officials said in a statement on Oct. 23 that “there are individuals within the caravan who are gang members or have significant criminal histories.”
“Citizens of countries outside Central America, including countries in the Middle East, Africa, South Asia, and elsewhere are currently traveling through Mexico toward the U.S.,” Tyler Houlton, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) press secretary, said in a tweet.
The DHS previously noted that 17,256 known criminals were apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border in the fiscal year 2018 and that more than 3,000 so-called special interest aliens, from countries such as Pakistan, were blocked from entering America illegally.
Trump Administration’s Response
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned the migrants that they would not be successful at getting into the United States illegally, during a press meeting at the State Department on Oct. 23.
“The caravan will not cross our southern border illegally under any circumstances,” he said.
“If you seek to come here, go through the normal refugee process. If you apply for refugee status, a permanent solution is possible in Mexico or in a third country. But I can tell you with certainty we are determined that illegal entry into the United States from this caravan will not be possible.”
Pompeo’s remarks echoed those of President Trump, who has said repeatedly in recent days that the caravan will be blocked from entering America.
Trump said on Oct. 22 the United States will begin cutting millions of dollars in aid to the three Central American nations of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, calling the caravan in Mexico a national emergency.
Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador were not able to do the job of stopping people from leaving their country and coming illegally to the U.S. We will now begin cutting off, or substantially reducing, the massive foreign aid routinely given to them.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 22, 2018
In his latest statements, the president said that people who want open borders should look at what happened to Europe after they let in a historic number of refugees, only to suffer a number of issues stemming from cultural clashes.
“For those who want an advocate for illegal immigration, just take a good look at what has happened to Europe over the last five years. A total mess! They only wish they had that decision to make over again,” he said.
At least two men have died so far on roads during the advance of the migrant columns, according to Honduran authorities. One of the men fell off a truck in Mexico, and the other died trying to get onto a truck in Guatemala.
Other caravans are expected to set out from Central America in coming days, encouraged by reports that it is a safer way for migrants to undertake the perilous journey north.
NTD reporter Zachary Stieber and Reuters contributed to this report.
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