AUSTIN, Texas — The Mexican government will attempt to quell a massive caravan of migrants traveling through the country to the United States’s southern border with the issuance of 1,000 humanitarian visas that would allow only a small number of the migrants to reside and work in the country legally.
A caravan of between 6,000 and 11,000 people departed Tapachula, a city near Mexico’s border with Guatemala, on Monday. Its organizer, Luis Garcia Villagran of the Center for Human Dignity, made the announcement to reporters Tuesday. The number has dropped to between 5,000 and 8,000 just a day into the march, he said.
“Yesterday, we talked to the director of immigration, Paola Rodas. We are awaiting her promise to come through with 1,000 humanitarian visas,” Villagran said, according to an independent reporter who translated from Spanish.
Villagran vowed to continue the march toward the U.S., regardless of whether the Mexican government provides the 1,000 visas or potentially buses to transport the group to the U.S.
“Visas or no visas. buses or no buses, we are going to continue walking. We leave tomorrow,” Villagran said.
Mexico’s National Institute of Migration has not issued a statement confirming the plan.
The caravan was organized by Luis Garcia Villagran, who organized previous unsuccessful caravans from southern Mexico in 2021 that never made it to the U.S. He was also the organizer of caravans during the Trump administration.
This caravan had been expected to grow to 15,000 participants, which would make it the largest group since the phenomenon of mass migration movements began early in the Trump administration.
The timing of this latest caravan is no coincidence, according to Villagran. Leaders from across the Western Hemisphere will meet in Los Angeles this week for the Summit of the Americas, where the Biden administration is expected to announce new cooperation pacts to stem and address migration across the hemisphere.
The pacts will likely send a message to migrants that they will not be permitted to travel to the U.S. or other countries. However, migrants told reporters that they have grown frustrated with Biden’s promise as a candidate to reform the asylum system, as well as his administration’s ban on asylum-seekers during the coronavirus pandemic.
Members of the caravan are overwhelmingly not coming from Central America or Mexico, countries that have historically been origins of migrants encountered at the U.S. border. People from Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela make up the majority of caravaners.