The caravan of thousands of Central American migrants has signaled its intended border crossing, turning toward Texas rather than staying on the route toward California.
The group, estimated around 4,000, set off before dawn Thursday from the city of Juchitan de Zaragoza, where they had spent a rest day on Wednesday Oct. 31.
Instead of continuing up the Pacific coast, they turned north, toward the state of Veracruz and the Gulf Coast. That route suggests they’re heading for the crossing from Reynosa to McAllen, Texas.
The McAllen crossing is about 850 miles from their current position — at least 1,400 miles closer than the crossing from Tijuana into California. They have already traveled almost 800 miles from San Pedro Sula, in Honduras, since October 12.
The caravan plans to travel about 35 miles on Thursday Nov. 1st, to the town of Matias Romero Avendano, in Oaxaca state. They had tried unsuccessfully Wednesday to arrange for buses to carry them.
A second, smaller group of 1,000 or so migrants is more than 200 miles behind the first caravan. A third band of about 500 from El Salvador has made it to Guatemala, and a fourth group of about 700 set out from the Salvadoran capital Wednesday.
A federal official who was not authorized to be quoted by name says 153 migrants from the second group were detained on Wednesday October 31st, during highway inspections in the southernmost state of Chiapas.
Mexico’s immigration agency does normally operate highway inspection checkpoints in the area near the Guatemalan border. But Wednesday’s detentions appear to mark a shift in enforcement strategy toward the caravans.
Officials haven’t tried to detain the first, larger group, instead offering free trips home or legal status in Mexico. But agents appear to be focusing on picking off smaller groups.