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February 17, 2019

Sights still on US, migrant caravan marks month on the road

Sights still on US, migrant caravan marks month on the road
'Migrants from poor Central American countries -- mostly Hondurans-- moving towards the United States in hopes of a better life, wait a highw0ay in the Mexican state of Guanajuato for a ride to Guadalajara on November 12, 2018 ' - By: AFP/File Alfredo ESTRELLA

The caravan of Central American migrants trekking across Mexico toward the United States marked one month on the road Tuesday with a full day of walking and hitch-hiking and no celebrations.

The caravan, which currently has around 5,000 migrants, set out from the city of San Pedro Sula in Honduras on October 13, fleeing poverty and violence -- and finding itself on the receiving end of a flood of anti-immigrant attacks from US President Donald Trump.

The migrants spent Monday night in the central city of Guadalajara, more than 2,000 kilometers (1,250 miles) from where they started, and planned to spend the day traveling nearly 900 kilometers more into the Pacific coast state of Sinaloa.

Their sights are set on the border city of Tijuana, another 1,800 kilometers from there.

On the US side, authorities closed down several lanes of traffic at two border crossings from Tijuana into California to install cement barriers and barbed-wire fencing.

Small groups of migrants that split off from the caravan have already begun arriving in Tijuana, which sits across the border from San Diego, California. A group of 350 arrived Tuesday morning, many with small children.

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis announced he would pay a visit Wednesday to the border, where Trump has ordered the deployment of thousands of active-duty troops.

Trump turned the migrant caravan into a hot-button issue ahead of last week's US mid-term elections, calling it an "invasion" and warning it was full of "gang members" and "hardened criminals."

He has provided no evidence for those claims, however.

The migrants insist they are simply seeking a better future away from Central America's "Northern Triangle" -- El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, poor countries where gang violence has fueled some of the highest murder rates in the world.

Many said they saw little cause for celebration in reaching the one-month mark in their exhausting journey.

"We're celebrating absolutely nothing. How could we have a party when we don't have houses or jobs, when we're tired and sick and worried about our future?" said Wilson Ramirez, 60, a Honduran man standing in the winding line to file out of the auditorium where the migrants spent the night.

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