A caravan of 1,200 migrants clears the first immigration checkpoint in Chiapas, Mexico, 30 March 2018. Organized by a group of volunteers called Pueblos Sin Fronteras, or People Without Borders, the caravan is intended to help migrants safely reach the United States, bypassing not only authorities who would seek to deport them, but gangs and cartels who are known to assault vulnerable migrants. Photo: Luc Forsyth / BuzzFeed News

By Adolfo Flores
31 March 2018

San Pedro Tapanatepec, Mexico (BuzzFeed) – Taking a drag from her cigarette, a Mexican immigration agent looked out toward a caravan of migrants that grew larger with each step they took on the two-lane highway.

When the agent, who'd covered her uniform with an orange and white shawl, learned that the Central American migrants heading her way numbered more than 1,000, she took off for the restaurant across the street.

“I'm going to have a relaxing Coke,” she told BuzzFeed News.

For five days now hundreds of Central Americans — children, women, and men, most of them from Honduras — have boldly crossed immigration checkpoints, military bases, and police in a desperate, sometimes chaotic march toward the United States. Despite their being in Mexico without authorization, no one has made any effort to stop them.

Organized by a group of volunteers called Pueblos Sin Fronteras, or People Without Borders, the caravan is intended to help migrants safely reach the United States, bypassing not only authorities who would seek to deport them, but gangs and cartels who are known to assault vulnerable migrants.

Organizers like Rodrigo Abeja hope that the sheer size of the crowd will give immigration authorities and criminals pause before trying to stop them.

“If we all protect each other we'll get through this together,” Abeja yelled through a loudspeaker on the morning they left Tapachula, on Mexico's border with Guatemala, for the nearly monthlong trek.

When they get to the US, they hope American authorities will grant them asylum or, for some, be absent when they attempt to cross the border illegally. More likely is that it will set up an enormous challenge to the Trump administration's immigration policies and its ability to deal with an organized group of migrants numbering in the hundreds.

The number of people who showed up to travel with the caravan caught organizers by surprise, and has overwhelmed the various towns they've stopped in to spend the night. Pueblos Sin Fronteras counted about 1,200 people on the first day.

About 80% of them are from Honduras. Many said they are fleeing poverty, but also political unrest and violence that followed the swearing in of Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández after a highly contested election last year. The group often breaks into chants of “out with JOH.” They also chant “we aren't immigrants, we're international workers” and “the people united will never be defeated.”

Sweating after miles of walking in more than 90-degree heat with her two kids, Karen said conditions in Honduras were so bad she decided to take a chance with the caravan. She declined to give her full name.

“The crime rate is horrible, you can't live there,” Karen told BuzzFeed News on the side of a highway near Huixtla, a town in Chiapas, Mexico's southernmost state. “After the president [was sworn in] it got worse. There were deaths, mobs, robbed homes, adults and kids were beaten up.” [more]

A Huge Caravan Of Central Americans Is Headed For The US, And No One In Mexico Dares To Stop Them

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