(photo credit: JPOST STAFF)
A group of over a thousand Central Americans in Guatemala headed towards the Mexican border on Tuesday, as a larger caravan of migrants that has angered US President Donald Trump paused in southern Mexico on its planned journey towards the US border.
Trump has vowed to begin cutting millions of dollars in aid to Central America and called the caravan in Mexico a national emergency as he seeks to boost his Republican Party's chances in the Nov. 6 congressional elections.
The caravan, mostly Honduran migrants fleeing violence and poverty at home, is currently in the town of Huixtla in Chiapas state, around 31 miles (50 km) north of the Guatemalan border and a distant 1,100 miles (1,800 km) from the United States.
Mexico's government said in a statement on Tuesday that it had received 1,699 requests for refugee status, including children. The government estimates there are around 4,500 people in the group.
Hundreds of migrants rested in Huixtla on Tuesday. Religious groups and companies donated clothes, and local authorities provided vaccines, food and drink.
"When we heard the caravan was coming (we joined) ... people in Guatemala are also suffering from poverty. So this is an opportunity to improve my family's life," said Elsa Romero, a Guatemalan mother of four in Huixtla.
Migrant Alexander Fernandez said the column planned to move again early on Wednesday.
In neighboring Guatemala, a separate group of least 1,000 migrants, also mostly Hondurans, headed out slowly on foot from the eastern town of Chiquimula, a Reuters witness said. Some local media put the number in the column above 2,000.
"We know this won't end in a few days, and will be a long progress of migration," said Mauro Verzeletti, director of the Casa del Migrante, a migrant shelter in Guatemala City.
He said that the shelter had attended to more than 11,000 migrants in the past week.
Other caravans are expected to set out from Central America in coming days, encouraged by reports that it is a safer way for migrants to undertake the perilous journey north.
Trump and fellow Republicans have sought to make the caravan and immigration issues in the mid-term election, which will determine whether their party keeps control of the US Senate and US House of Representatives.
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