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What to know about the migrant caravan heading to the US

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A migrant caravan departed Mexico’s southern city of Tapachula on Monday, as the Biden administration ratchets up pressure on Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to impose tighter limits on migrants crossing his country.

The reportedly 6,000-strong caravan is the largest organized group of migrants to form in Tapachula since 2022, when news of a similarly sized caravan threatened to overshadow the Summit of the Americas, hosted in Los Angeles by the Biden administration.

The new Christmas caravan promises to be a political headache for both President Biden and López Obrador, as Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and White House homeland security adviser Liz Sherwood-Randall are due to meet the Mexican president Wednesday.

That meeting will follow phone conversations between the two presidents, in which López Obrador called on Biden to reduce sanctions on Cuba as part of a strategy to reduce migration in the hemisphere.


More coverage from The Hill


But according to local reports, the caravan is in part motivated by Mexican enforcement actions in Tapachula, near the border with Guatemala.

According to Diario del Sur, a local publication, more than 100,000 migrants are stalled in the city, awaiting paperwork allowing them free transit through Mexico.

In the past, Mexico’s strategy of slow-walking papers has led to unrest among migrants eager to leave the country’s poorest regions. That unrest can contribute to the organization of caravans, in which migrants travel together both for protection against organized crime and against extortion demands from corrupt Mexican officials.

According to reports, the caravan’s leaders are carrying banners calling the movement an “exodus from poverty,” and it is mainly composed of people from Cuba, Haiti and Honduras.

According to the BBC, activist Luis García Villagrán in part blamed the movement on the ease of crossing from Guatemala to Tapachula.

“The problem is that the southern border [with Guatemala] is open, and 800 to 1,000 people are crossing it daily. If we don’t get out of Tapachula, the town will collapse,” García Villagrán told the BBC.

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