Thousands of Central American migrants traveling with a caravan that has been stationed in Mexico City for days have decided to push on towards the U.S., opting to take the longer, but likely safer, route to Tijuana, which borders San Diego, California.
While Mexico has offered refuge, asylum and work visas to those who choose to stay in the country, the Associated Press has reported that migrants made the decision late Thursday to leave the Mexico City sports stadium where they have been taking shelter and continue their journey to the U.S. on Friday.
If caravan members do decide to make their way to Tijuana, they will have a roughly 1,775 mile journey ahead of them.
A group of Central American migrants heading in a caravan to the US, and who are staying at a shelter set up at the Sports City in the Mexican capital, during a stop in their journey, march towards the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees headquarters in Mexico City on November 8, 2018. Thousands of the caravan’s members plan to resume their journey to the U.S. on Friday. ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP/Getty
Caravan coordinator Milton Benitez told the news agency that the local United Nations office had agreed to arrange buses to take women and children to the border, but Benitez said organizers wanted buses to be made available for everyone traveling with the caravan, due to fears that it would be too difficult and dangerous to continue walking and hitchhiking all the way to the border.
Organizers said that they hoped the buses would arrive on Friday, but told AP that they planned to leave Mexico city with or without transport, with the journey expected to resume at around 5 a.m. local time.
Taking the most direct route from Mexico City to Tijuana, Central American migrants traveling with a caravan to the U.S. border will have a roughly 1,175 mile long journey ahead of them. GOOGLE MAPS/SIO/NOAA/U.S. NAVY/NGA/GEBCO/LANDSAT/COPERNICUS/DATA LDEO-COLUMBIA/NSF/INEGI
The decision by caravan members to push forward to the border comes as President Donald Trump is set to issue a presidential proclamation for a new rule to restrict the ability of those caught crossing into the U.S. illegally to seek asylum.
The Trump administration announced the new federal rule issued by the Department of Homeland Security and the Justice Department on Thursday.
Human Rights First’s Eleanor Acer condemned the rule on Thursday as the “latest shameful tactic in a years-long campaign to vilify and punish those who seek protection in this country.”
Aerial view of houses and structures sitting right next to the Mexico-US border fence at El Nido de las Aguilas in eastern Tijuana, Baja California State, Mexico, taken on July 26, 2018. GUILLERMO ARIAS/AFP/Getty
“The refugees seeking protection at our southern border are not a security threat; they are brave men, women, and children who have fled horrific violence and persecution in the hopes of living in this country in freedom and dignity,” Acer said in a statement shared online.
“This is the story of America, and we will not allow President Trump and the anti-immigrant voices in the White House to make a mockery of our nation’s ideals.”
Troops deployed to the southern border by the Trump administration in anticipation of the arrival of the several caravans making their way to the U.S. have already started to arrive at the San Diego-Tijuana border, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune.
U.S. Army troops enter a compound where the military is erecting an encampment near the US-Mexico border crossing at Donna, Texas, on November 6, 2018. Troops have already reportedly arrived at the San Diego-Tijuana border. ANDREW CULLEN/AFP/Getty
“We are out here to support Customs and Border Protection to enable them to defend the southern border,” 2nd Lt. Frederick D. Walker, a Marine spokesperson for the task force assigned to San Diego told the news outlet.
The Marine spokesperson said troops from Camp Pendleton and Texas would initially be working to strengthen border barriers, with soldiers being tasked with putting up concertina wire to make the barrier between the two countries “less scalable.”
Officials with U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Department of Defense are reportedly expected to hold a joint news conference on the San Diego portion of the mission on Friday.
A caravan that arrived at the U.S. border in April had also chosen to take the longer route to the San Diego-Tijuana border, rather than try to claim asylum as the nearest point of entry in the area of McAllen, Texas.
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