The river separating Guatemala and Mexico is the primary crossing point for tens of thousands of Central American immigrants who migrate north each year looking for work and a better life in America. Saturday night, however, when the sun went down, the river banks came alive, with hundreds of young Honduran men breaching the river to the chorus of fellow countrymen cheering them when they reached Mexican soil. Police made no attempt to intervene.
The caravan, numbering anywhere from 5,000 to 10,000, is composed of young, unemployed men, women with children, some families and unaccompanied juveniles. Most are from Honduras.
Mexican officials say some 5,100 to 7,200 migrants registered to stay in the shelters of Cuidad Hidalgo, with another 2,000 chose to camp in the town square. Earlier in the day, the Mexican government estimated 2,000 remained in Guatemala.
Mexico says some 640 asylum claims have been processed since Friday. Many other immigrants waded across the Suchiate guided by a tow rope or took one of dozens of rafts that ply these waters daily. Mexico said “900” arrived in such “unauthorized means.”
Mexico says it will police its border against rogue caravan members who try to cross illegally, although evidence suggests otherwise.
Mexico fears Central Americans turned away from U.S. ports of entry will overwhelm already stressed food banks and shelters in border cities like Tijuana, Nogales and Juarez, creating immigrant ghettos of crime and desperation, with migrants unable to move north and with no money to return home.
With the midterm election just two weeks away, their trek north could provide a potent political argument for both sides as American voters decide which party can best untangle the immigration knot.
If those refugees were looking to aid Republicans in the mid-term elections, their timing was perfect.
Mike "Mish" Shedlock