The first group of Central American migrants is leaving Mexico City Friday, hours before United States President Donald Trump signed a legally-questionable immigration proclamation to ban migrants who cross the U.S. border illegally from qualifying for asylum.
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According to Mexico City's Human Rights Commission, almost 5,000 Central American immigrants were taking shelter in the Jesus Martinez stadium. Of these, 1,726 are minors and 310 are children under 5 years old. In a press conference Thursday the Commission also said there are 24 pregnant women and 31 minors traveling alone.
On Thursday, a group of migrants marched to United Nations offices to request aid in their journey. U.N. authorities met with the migrants' representatives who asked for 170 buses to transport them to the U.S. border.
"They need transport to continue traveling," said one of the groups' coordinators, Milton Benitez, who explained that the people fleeing poverty and violence at home will face harsher weather conditions in northern Mexico and more precarious security conditions, as they will cross zones controlled by drug-trafficking cartels.
Despite the real threats the migrants will face the U.N. refused to provide the buses, a decision that has not prevented them from marching north, towards the U.S. border.
"We go towards the border, marching always as we have from Honduras. Without waiting for buses. We don't want to keep waiting, we want no more lies, we want to walk more, we want to go forward. We are happy, thank god and with faith in god that we will arrive well because god is who protects us every day," Oscar Zelani told Mexican reporter and tweeter user @dalies.
Personas #migrantes se dicen contentos porque ya van hacia la #FronteraNorte para llegar a #EstadosUnidos, no esperararán más, se sienten engañados por la ONU y algunas autoridades por la falta de ayuda con autobuses para segur su paso #CaravanaMigrante #ÉxodoCentroamericano pic.twitter.com/iy8VGqVSTq— dalies (@dalilesa) November 9, 2018
"#Migrant people say they are happy because they are already going to the #NorthernBorder to arrive to the #U.S., they wait no more, they feel fooled by the U.N. and some authorities for the lack of help with buses to continue on their path #MigrantCaravan #CentralaAmericanExodus."
The journey resumed around 6 a.m. local time. Reporters on the ground explained they've taken the metro to the Cuatro Caminos station where around 400 people are waiting for 600 more who will try to make their way to the city of Queretaro.
El éxodo centroamericano en metro por CDMX. #caravanademigrantes pic.twitter.com/9RLEiPQPgr— Alberto Pradilla (@albertopradilla) November 9, 2018
Along the southern U.S. border, more than 5,600 U.S. troops have been deployed. Approximately 550 are working on the border in Texas, the Associated Press reported.
The exodus could take a longer, yet safer, route to the border town of Tijuana from Queretaro. The two cities are 1,600 miles apart. The group has already traversed thousands of miles.
Tijuana borders California, a much more progressive state than Texas, where anti-immigrant sentiment is more prevalent.
Earlier this year, the Trump administration filed a lawsuit against the state government of California for sanctuary laws that made it more difficult for Federal officials to deport immigrants.
On Thursday President Trump announced it will enforce stricter regulations to deny asylum to migrants who attempt to enter the country illegally. The viability of such action is questionable because the Immigration and Nationality Act's section on asylum says that a migrant is allowed to make a claim up to one year after arriving in the U.S., legally or not.
This would invoke extraordinary presidential powers similar to the ones Trump used to push through a version of a travel ban on people visiting the U.S. from certain Muslim-majority countries.
“U.S. law specifically allows individuals to apply for asylum whether or not they are at a port of entry. It is illegal to circumvent that by agency or presidential decree,” Omar Jadwat, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrants’ Rights Project warned.