Sat | Dec 15, 2018

Splintered migrant caravan groups arrive at US border

Published:Thursday | November 15, 2018 | 12:00 AM
A Central American migrant, part of the caravan hoping to reach the US border, carries his dog into a dump truck, on their way to Mazatlan, Mexico on Tuesday.

ESCUINAPA (AP):

Migrants in a caravan of Central Americans scrambled to reach the US border, catching rides on buses and trucks for hundreds of miles in the last leg of their journey Wednesday as the first sizable groups began arriving in the border city of Tijuana.

Authorities in Tijuana were struggling to deal with a group of 357 migrants who arrived aboard nine buses Tuesday and another group, about the same size, that was approaching the city on Wednesday.

The first group immediately went to a stretch of border fence in Tijuana to celebrate.

A couple of dozen migrants scaled the steel border fence to celebrate their arrival, chanting "Yes, we could!" and one man dropped over to the US side briefly as border agents watched from a distance. He ran quickly back to the fence.

Tijuana's head of migrant services, Cesar Palencia Chavez, said authorities offered to take the migrants to shelters immediately, but they initially refused.

"They wanted to stay together in a single shelter," Palencia Chavez said, "but at this time that's not possible" because shelters are designed for smaller groups and generally offer separate facilities for men, women and families.

But he said after their visit to the border, most were taken to shelters in groups of 30 or 40.

With a total of three caravans moving through Mexico comprising 7,000 to 10,000 migrants in all, questions arose as to how Tijuana would deal with such a huge influx, especially given US moves to tighten border security and make it harder to claim asylum.

On Wednesday, buses and trucks carried some migrants into the state of Sinaloa along the Gulf of California and further northwards into the border state of Sonora.

The bulk of the main caravan appeared to be about 1,100 miles (1,800 kilometres) from the border, but was moving hundreds of miles per day.