Migrant caravan shrinks as some accept bus rides home

Migrant caravan shrinks as some accept bus rides home

As the army of immigrants continues on their way, U.S. President Donald Trump is scrambling to enlist assistance from Central American and Mexican governments bouncing between threats of militarization and aid cuts to multi-million bribes, all to no avail.

A team of AP journalists travelling with the caravan for more than a week has spoken with Hondurans, Guatemalans and Salvadorans, but has not met any Middle Easterners, who Trump suggested were "mixed in" with the Central American migrants.

"A lot of the migrants are expecting to apply for asylum and for asylum to be granted", Sarah Pierce, a policy analyst for the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute in Washington, D.C., told CBS News "In reality, we have an immigration regime on the southern border that is enforcement-first".

Last week, he promised to "shut down" the border if Mexico didn't stop the caravan, calling it an "onslaught" of illegal immigration.

While the president and his predecessors have requested state governors to deploy the National Guard to the border before, as Trump did in April when a smaller migrant caravan tried to cross into the U.S., he had warned last weekend that he would send in "the military, not the guard". This process, known as "return to territory", which was included in President Donald Trump's January 2017 executive order on border security, isn't now carried out by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, because Mexico would need to agree to take foreign nationals back.

"The final destination for most is the United States' southern border where they intend to seek asylum", the news outlet reported.

He tagged in Vice President Mike Pence to talk about his call with the president of Honduras, and he said at one point it's "inconceivable there would not be individuals from the Middle East as part of this growing caravan". "We are living in very hard situations in our country to the point that we can't even defend our own rights".

Trump has taken a hard line toward immigration - legal and illegal - since becoming president previous year.

"Honduran politicians allied with Venezuelan & Cuban socialist dictators are encouraging the caravan to undermine US-friendly gov't of (President Juan Orlando) Hernandez", said Haley, who visited Honduras and Guatemala this year.

United Nations deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said large numbers of migrants were still arriving in Mexico and were "likely to remain in the country for an extended period". One official referred reporters to Mexican authorities. "Today it's for them, tomorrow for us", Valdivia said, adding that he was getting a valuable gift from those he helped.

Father-of-four Jose Mejia from San Pedro Sula, said: "We are going to sleep here in the street, because we have nothing else. We'll get a piece of plastic to cover ourselves if it rains again".

"With the hand of God, I hope he gives us the opportunity to arrive to our destiny in the United States", Franco said.

Carrying their few belongings on their backs - many with babies pressed to their chests or holding their children by the hand - they left at dawn after taking a one-day break to rest, bathe and nurse aching and injured feet.

It has comprised between 3,000 and 5,000 people at various times as it moved through Guatemala, according to various sources.

Mexican authorities say they have received 1,699 refugee status requests from adults and children so far.

UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards told VOA that its staffers also are safeguarding migrants' rights.

Around 900 migrants - exhausted of waiting on the bridge - resorted to crossing the Suchiate River below on makeshift rafts and police did not intervene as they clambered up the muddy riverbank on the Mexican side on Saturday.

The Honduran president acknowledged that social problems were a contributory factor.

"All the people of honduras who are here want to live the american dream", he said.

For the migrants, many of whom are fleeing poverty and gang violence, the entrance to Mexico meant another day's walking under a blazing sun.

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